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Author of ' Lives of the Engineers,' ' Self- Help,' ' Character,' etc. 

Never hasting, never resting, 
With a firm and joyous heart, 

Ever onward slowly tending, 
Acting, aye, a brave man's part. 

Undepressed by seeming failure, 

Undated by success ; 
Heights attained, revealing higher, 

Onward, upward, ever press. 



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SEVERAL lives of Josiah Wedgwood have already been 
published, and it is therefore necessary to give an apology 
for the appearance of the present volume. 

Mr. Charles T. Gatty had been requested by the 
Wedgwood family to undertake the composition of the 
life of their illustrious ancestor; but, after numerous 
interruptions, he was unable to proceed with the work. 
I had already made some progress with a popular Life 
of Wedgwood, and when he found that I was engaged 
upon it, he kindly lent me the materials derived direct 
from the Wedgwood family manuscripts. 

These documents, I found, consisted for the most 
part of materials which had not been investigated by 
former biographers. Many of them were calculated to 
throw a new light upon the personal history of the 
Master Potter of Staffordshire. They show how he 
converted a rude art into one of the most important 
articles of British Commerce. They contain his diaries, 



Josiah Wedgwood 

commonplace books, and experiments 011 clays, kilns, 
and colours. 

They show his untiring industry and enterprise in 
all that he undertook during his active business life. 
They continue, in many shapes and forms, from 1759 to 
1794, giving way at the end to that last recipe of all : 
"Dr. Darwin's prescription for Mr. Wedgwood/' dated 
a few weeks before Mr. Wedgwood's death. 

The family manuscripts contain much of Wedg- 
wood's correspondence with his wife, his children, his 
artists, his agents, and his partners. We have invoices, 
statements of accounts, extracts from scientific journals, 
notes of experiments on air, minerals, coals, clays, 
colours, and glass ; and mixed with these are notes on 
building, canal navigation, fossils, gardening, farriery, 
turnpikes, thermometers, vases, travels, and all manner 
of subjects. 

Of his many letters and manuscripts, no small 
portion was obtained from Etruria many years ago, 
being doubtless regarded as no better than waste paper. 
Some of these got into the possession of Joseph Mayer, 
silversmith and antiquary, and were bequeathed by him, 
with his collection of Wedgwood pottery, to the Free 
Public Museum in the city of Liverpool. 

Through the kindness of the Chairman of the Mayer 
Collection, I was permitted to take home with me the 

Preface vii 

letters, to examine them at my leisure. I found many 
letters of Wedgwood, but none of Bentley, his most 
intimate friend and correspondent. Wedgwood thought 
so much of Bentley's letters, that he had them bound 
into a volume, that he might read them at his leisure. 
The probability is that they are still in existence, but 
to the present time they are not forthcoming. At the 
same time it must be said, that apart from his work as 
a partner and salesman in London, Bentley had little to 
do with the great enterprises of Wedgwood. 

I have also been enabled, through the kindness of 
Miss Goddard, of Little Ashton, near Sutton Lichfield, 
to insert a number of letters which she obtained from a 
selection of the Wedgwood manuscripts. Some of these 
are important, more particularly as regards his discovery 
of the Thermometer or Pyrometer for testing the highest 
degrees of heat, in respect of which Wedgwood was 
elected a member of the Eoyal Society. 

I have not inserted any Illustrations of Wedgwood's 
works. These have already been published by Llewellyn 
Jewitt, Miss Meteyard, Professor Church, and others. 
But the most splendid illustrations, which are about to 
be published, are those by Mr. Quaritch, on account of 
Frederick Eathbone, a leading expert in Wedgwood's 
works. These have been executed by M. F. Appel of 
Paris, and leave nothing to be desired. The pieces to 

viii Josiah Wedgwood 

be illustrated will be vases, plaques, medallions, portraits, 
intaglios, and cameos, produced by Wedgwood between 
1760 and 1795. 

I conclude this brief preface by quoting the words 
which Novalis employed when comparing the works of 
Goethe with those of Wedgwood : " Goethe is truly a 
practical poet. He is in his works what the Englishman 
is in his wares, perfectly simple, neat, fit, and durable. 
He has played in the German world of literature the 
same part that Wedgwood has played in the English 
world of art." 















Josiah Wedgwood 

































JOSIAH WEDGWOOD was born in the house adjoining the 
Churchyard Works at Burslem, Staffordshire, in 1730. 
The actual date of his birth is not known; but his 
baptism is recorded in the parish register of St. John's, 
Burslem, in these words : " Josiah, son of Thomas and 
Mary Wedgwood, baptized 12th July 1730." 1 

Josiah's father was a potter, like his forefathers before 
him. He possessed a small estate, including a pottery, 
adjoining the Burslem Churchyard. His mother's 
maiden name was Mary Stringer, the daughter, it is 
said, of a nonconformist minister. She was a small and 
delicately organised woman, quick and sensible, and 
kindly in her disposition. 

Thomas and Mary Wedgwood had thirteen children 
in all seven sons and six daughters. Josiah was the 

1 It is carved on his monument at Stoke-upon-Trent that he was 
"born in August 1730"; but this must be a mistake, as he was 
baptized in the previous month. 


Josiah Wedgwood 


youngest of the family. In that respect he resembled 
his contemporary Sir Eichard Arkwright, who was the 
youngest of thirteen children. 

From the year 1710 to 1715, Bursleni was the 
principal seat of the pottery manufacture in Stafford- 
shire. There were few potworks anywhere else in that 
county. Of the fifty small potters in Burslem, many 
were named Wedgwood. They and their ancestors had 
been manufacturers of earthenware for more than two 
hundred years. 

Burslem used to be called the Butter Pottery, 
meaning the place where butter pots were principally 
made. The other earthenware produced in Burslem 
was for the most part coarse in texture, clumsy in 
design, and very liable to fracture; yet it was not 
totally devoid of taste, either in form or ornament. 

It may also be mentioned that at the beginning of 
the eighteenth century there were seven small potters 
at Hanley (now a place of some 40,000 inhabitants) ; 
but there was only one horse and one mule in the 
hamlet. There was neither cart nor carriage of any 
kind in Hanley, the roads being almost impassable for 
even pack-horses. The coals used in the place were 
carried on men's or women's backs. There were only 
two houses at Stoke Ward's and Poulson's but no 
potworks as yet existed there. 

Very little is known of Josiah's childhood. There 
are, unfortunately, no family letters or journals of the 
period to refer to ; and biographical material of any 


j * 

Birth and Education 

description is not to be depended on. There have indeed 
been traditions and surmises printed from time to time, 
but these are not to be relied upon for accuracy. 

It was, on the whole, a good thing for Josiah that he 
was one of a numerous family. On entering life he 
found a little world of boys and girls about him. The 
child in a large family receives a kind of social educa- 
tion by contact with his brothers and sisters. The 
little corners of his temperament are rubbed off and 
smoothed down, as with boys in a public school. If 
he wishes to pass comfortably through life, he finds 
that he must give and take, especially when, like Josiah, 
he has to make his own way in the world. 

Not much is recorded about his boyhood. He 
played about the fields and strips of waste ground 
near the Churchyard Works. There were occasionally 
pack-horses at the pottery waiting for their loads of 
ware. As riding was one of his early ambitions, he 
occasionally bestrode the pack-horses, held on by the 
willing packmen. 

The mother had of course plenty to do in bringing 
up such a "long family." She had to feed, to 
clothe, and maintain them. But she never was found 
wanting. She was, as we have said, lively, quick, 
and sensible, with a soul full of kindness. She was 
anything but selfish or hardened by the number of her 
children. With a heart opened to them all, young as well 
as old, she proved herself one of the best of mothers. 
She taught her children the value of industry; for, 

4 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

indeed, the greater part of them had little else to look 
forward to; together with those good rules of life 
integrity, self-help, self-restraint, and perseverance. 

Little is known about the school education of her 
youngest son. When able to toddle about, Josiah 
was sent to a dame's school to learn his A.B.C. This 
was at that time the only school in Burslem, and he 
was sent there more to keep him out of the way of the 
other children, or perhaps out of mischief, than for any 
learning he received. 

The local historian, Simeon Shaw, says that scarcely 
any person in Burslem learned more than reading and 
writing until about 1750; when some individuals en- 
dowed the free school for instructing young persons to 
read the Bible, write a fair hand, and know the primary 
rules of arithmetic. Josiah's early education was thus 
limited to reading and writing. 

When seven years old he was sent across the moors 
to a school at Newcastle-under-Lyme, kept by a Mr. 
Blunt. The school was about three and a half miles from 
Burslem, and in fine weather his walks across the fields 
and commons were joyous and healthful. Among his 
schoolfellows were several who afterwards achieved 
considerable distinction ; though none proved so great 
as Wedgwood himself. 

He remained, however, only a short time at that 
school. He was taken away at his father's death, 
which occurred in June 1739, when Josiah was only 
nine years old. All that he had learned up to this time 

Birth and Education 

were the beginnings of reading, writing, and arithmetic. 
The rest of his knowledge and learning he accomplished 
by himself. Like many men of action and enterprise, 
like Brindley and Stephenson, he was, for the most 
part, his own educator. 

Josiah's father, Thomas Wedgwood, did not leave 
much money or property behind him. By his will, 
dated 26th June 1739, he left to his eldest son Thomas 
the Churchyard Pottery, and all his real estate, with a 
provision for his wife for her maintenance and "the 
proper bringing up of her younger children." Twenty 
pounds were to be paid to six of them on their reaching 
twenty years of age. The eldest daughter Ann was 
omitted, from which it may be inferred that she had 
done something displeasing to her father ; and he could 
not forgive her, even in his dying hours. 

Josiah was included amongst those who were to 
receive twenty pounds on his coming of age ; and this 
was the entire capital on which he began his industrial 
and artistic career. As he himself afterwards said of 
his fortunes : " I myself began at the lowest round 
of the ladder." 

To recur again to Josiah's early education. Mr. 
Leslie, afterwards Sir John Leslie, Professor of Natural 
Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, was, in the 
early part of his career, the tutor of Wedgwood's eldest 
sons. He knew much of the history of the proprietor of 
Etruria, and after his death, collected materials for his 
biography. He says that Wedgwood's early education 

6 Josiah Wedgwood 


was confined to the usual routine of a country school, 
where he learnt no language but his own, and that 
imperfectly. Although deprived of the advantage of a 
liberal education, by diligence and perseverance he found 
his own way to useful knowledge and the rightful 
application of it. 

Mr. Leslie records that Josiah himself attributed 
much of his success in after life to the opportunity 
which was given him during a long illness, to repair, by 
reading, the deficiencies of his mental training. His 
anxiety to accomplish this end as he grew up, and 
also the urgent way in which he advised his children 
to gain all the knowledge they could in their early life, 
show how keenly he felt the disadvantages from which 
he himself had suffered. 

The manner in which Josiah accomplished not 
only his own but his children's education, will be found 
set forth in the following chapters. 



So numerous are the Wedgwoods in Staffordshire, that 
they might almost be described as a clan. They 
resided principally in Burslem and the neighbour- 
hood; but they spread from thence into Yorkshire, 
Cheshire, Cumberland, Westmoreland, and other 
counties, where many of them continued to work at the 
pottery trade. 

The surname of Wedgwood half fills the parish 
registers of Burslem in the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries. It is said that one-third of the inhabitants of 
the parish then bore the name. According to old 
deeds and charters, the first Wedgwood resided at a 
place called Weggewood, a hamlet in Staffordshire, 
about four miles west of Newcastle-under-Lyme. As 
far back as 1370, in the 13th of Edward III., Thomas 
de Weggewood was frank pledge, or head borough of 
the hamlet of Weggewood. 

The family accumulated property, not only by their 
industry, but partly by their marriages to ladies of 

8 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

distinction. In 1470, John Wedgwood married Mary, 
the daughter and heiress of John Shaw, and thus 
possessed the estate of Harracles, in the parish of 
Norton, near Leek. The property was inherited by the 
elder branch of their descendants, which, for want of 
issue, shortly became extinct. 

The second branch of the family removed to Burslem ; 
and the first of them we find mentioned is Gilbert 
Wedgwood, who about the year 1600 married Margaret, 
daughter and co-heiress of Thomas Burslem, Esq. ; and 
by her he had Burslem Wedgwood and Thomas Wedg- 

Thomas, the second surviving son of Gilbert and 
Margaret, was a man of considerable property. He 
owned a large part of Burslem, including three or 
four potworks. He married Margaret Shaw, and had 
by her a family of several sons and daughters. He died 
in 1679. Thomas was the ancestor of the families 
known as the "Overhouse Wedgwoods" and the "Church- 
yard Wedgwoods " ; the latter were so called because 
their potworks were close to the Burslem Churchyard. 

Another son of Gilbert Wedgwood and Margaret 
Shaw married in 1684 Mary Leigh, another small 
proprietress. They had four sons and five daughters. 
The eldest son Thomas inherited from his father the 
Churchyard potworks. On arriving at maturity, he 
married Mary Stringer, by whom he had thirteen 
children, seven sons and six daughters. Josiah, the 
great potter, was the youngest of the family. 

The Wedgwood Family 

To return to the origin of the Wedgwoods as 
potters. We find that Gilbert Wedgwood settled at 
Burslem in 1612, and became the ancestor of a long 
line of potters. He manufactured most of the varieties 
of earthenware in ordinary use. The ware was of a 
common description, mostly butter- pots, basins, jugs, 
porringers, and such like. Timber or wooden ware, 
for spoons and dishes, continued to be used. 

The best earthenware was imported from abroad, 
mostly from Delft in Holland. The Staffordshire potters 
tried to imitate the foreigners, and eventually succeeded. 
Before long they equalled them, and obtained part 
possession of the home market. Delft ware was manu- 
factured in Burslem towards the end of the seventeenth 
century. In 1691, one John Wedgwood made a Puzzle- 
Jug in the style of Delft ware. It was called a 
Puzzle-Jug, because it was so contrived with perfora- 
tions in various parts of the jug, that it was almost 
impossible to drink from it without spilling a portion. 
There were imprinted on it the following lines : 

Here, gentlemen, come try your skill, 
I'll hold a wager, if you will, 
That you don't drink the liquor all, 
Without you spill, or let some fall. 

The Wedgwoods continued to be potters, and their 
numbers in Burslem increased. At the same time 
they did not subsist entirely by the consumption of 
their pottery ware. One of them, Dr. Thomas Wedg- 
wood, at the end of the seventeenth century, combined 

io Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

farming with potmaking. His son, of the same name, 
resided at the "Bed Lyon," and was an innkeeper as 
well as a potter, though whence the title of doctor was 
derived, we do not know. 

As the profits of potters were then very small, so 
were the wages of their workmen. Wedgwood's grand- 
father had, in 1*715, three workmen, to whom he paid 
four shillings a week, and three others to whom he paid 
six shillings a week. 

Apprentices were still more poorly paid. Aaron 
Wood was apprenticed to Dr. Thomas Wedgwood in 
1731. During the first three years of his apprentice- 
ship he was paid one shilling weekly. During the 
next three years he was paid one shilling and sixpence 
weekly ; and in the last and seventh year he was paid 
four shillings weekly. Besides his wages, Aaron Wood 
had annually a pair of new shoes. When Aaron's 
apprenticeship expired, he was engaged for five years as 
a journeyman at five shillings a week. 

Dr. Thomas Wedgwood junior, the innkeeper, did 
something to improve the manufacture of pottery. 
Besides manufacturing imitation agates, marbles, and 
coffee and tea pots, he eventually succeeded in pro- 
ducing a pure white stoneware. His workmen also 
made baking dishes, milkpans, pots, jugs, porringers, 
pitchers, and other sorts of crockery. 

The chief hindrance to the expansion of the trade of 
Burslem and the neighbourhood was the horrible state 
of the roads and byways. At the beginning of last 

ii The Wedgwood Family 1 1 

century Burslem was a poor struggling little village 
of thatched houses. When the Kev. Mr. Middleton, 
incumbent of Stone, was enforcing upon his hearers the 
duty of humility, he said they might be compared to 
so many sparrows, as all of them had been hatched 
under the thatch. The Big House, with the adjacent 
earthenware manufactory, erected by Thomas and 
John Wedgwood in 1750, was the only building in 
Burslem covered with slates. 

Hanley, Shelton, Lane, and Stoke were of still less 
importance than Burslem. Longport did not exist until 
the construction of the Trent and Mersey Canal. The 
original potters scattered themselves over the districts 
in which clay, wood, and coal were found. The primi- 
tive pottery works were widely spread over an area of 
some ten miles in extent. 

The houses in which the families of the workers 
lived were only thatched hovels, sometimes covered 
with mud. The midden was a conspicuous object before 
every door. In many places there were mounds of 
ashes and shard-rucks, consisting of broken pots and 
spoilt earthenware. Beside them were the hollows 
from which the potters had dug their clay. These 
were usually filled with stagnant water. Everything 
was coarse, rude, and unwholesome. 

Yet alehouses abounded, for the people were greatly 
given to drink. As an excuse, it may be said that the 
earthenware was usually sold in the public -houses. 
The potters had their sports too miserable remnants 

12 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

of " Merry England " ! In the centre of Burslem was a 
high Maypole, at the place where the Town Hall now 
stands, around which the jolly potters held their 
festivals. They had many so-called amusements 
cock -throwing, goose -riding, bull and bear baiting. 
Bull-baiting was continued down to about sixty years 
since, Each pottery had its special wake, which was 
usually a saturnalia of drunkenness. 

The morals and manners of the people were of 
course brutal and vicious. When John Wesley visited 
the potteries about the middle of last century a crowd 
of people assembled to laugh and jeer at him, and 
proceeded to pelt him with mud. The following is 
from his diary, on the 8th of March 1760 : 

" Went from Wolverhampton to Burslem, a scattered 
town on the top of a hill, inhabited almost entirely by 
potters, a multitude of whom assembled at five in the 
evening. Deep attention sat on every face, though as 
yet accompanied with deep ignorance ; but if the heart 
be moved toward God, He will in due time enlighten 
the understanding. 

"Sunday, 9th. I preached at night to near double 
the number, some quite innocent of thought. Five or 
six were laughing and talking till I had nearly done ; 
and one of them threw a clod of earth, which struck me 
on the side of the head, but it neither disturbed me 
nor the congregation." 

A few years later John Wesley preached at the 
same place, and entered in his journal these words : " I 

ii The Wedgwood Family 13 

began preaching at Burslem. Even the poor potters 
here are a more civilised people than the better sort (so 
called) at Congleton." The women who attended his 
preaching assumed to a certain extent the garb of men, 
and were quite as ready with their oaths. Everything 
was rude, barbarous, and uncivilised. 

In most cases an ordinary potwork was carried 
on by a man and a labourer. When the potter had 
sons and daughters they helped in the work. The sons 
dug the clay, the man fashioned and fired the ware ; and 
when the goods were ready the mother and daughters 
filled the panniers, swung across the backs of horses or 
donkeys. Their drivers then drove them through the 
lanes to fairs and markets in order to sell the manufac- 
tured goods. The poor brutes were driven on with 
whip or cudgel, the men and women mostly with pipes 
in their mouths. 

The roads in the neighbourhood of Burslem were 
of the worst description. The lanes were known as 
" hollow ways," and in wet weather they were streams 
of muddy water. When the poor brutes, laden with 
their panniers of crockery, could not toil through the 
deep and sticky mud, they often fell down and smashed 
the ware. Sometimes they broke their legs, and were 
either shot or left to die a happy release for the poor 
overworked animals. 

These muddy lanes were unenclosed. When the 
horses and donkeys could not pass through the hollow 
ways, they were driven on to the adjoining commons 

14 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

or moorland, and went along in single file by the steep 
escarpments of the road. It was long before carts or 
waggons could be used at Burslem. Even at the be- 
ginning of last century they were very rare in the 

But in course of time the earthenware manufactured 
in Staffordshire improved. The black-glazed or ruddy- 
coloured articles were gradually replaced by brighter 
and yellower ware, although, as has already been 
stated, wooden spoons, plates, and dishes long continued 
to be used. A great impulse was given to the manu- 
facture of improved earthenware by the immigration 
and settlement of Dutchmen and Germans in Stafford- 
shire. They introduced the manufacture of Delft ware. 
The native manufacturers vied with the foreigners, 
and they were soon able to export their ware to foreign 

Towards the end of the seventeenth century, the 
two brothers Elers, from Delft, followed the Prince of 
Orange to England, and settled in Staffordshire for the 
purpose of manufacturing stoneware. They hired an 
old thatched farmhouse, with some adjoining land, in 
a secluded spot near Bradwell. The small potwork 
which they erected was scarcely discernible from Burs- 
lem. The ware which they turned out was found to 
be of a finer description than any manufactured in the 

The Elers made the greatest improvement in the 
potter's art of England by introducing the Salt Glaze 

ii The Wedgwood Family 15 

that is, by firing their ware with the .vapour of common 
salt at a high temperature. They washed, and levigated, 
and in various ways prepared the clays, giving the ware 
a fineness, durability, and solidity, which were entirely 
new. The ornaments and mouldings were sharp in 
execution and graceful in design, far beyond the efforts 
of the Staffordshire potters at that time. 

The Elers discovered a vein of clay, which they found 
suitable for their purposes, near Bradwell Wood. This 
clay, carefully levigated, and covered with an excellent 
glaze, yielded a red ware, like the Etruscan or Japanese ; 
hard and compact in texture, and admirable in design. 
The Elers, besides their red ware, also produced an 
Egyptian black, by the mixture of Manganese with the 
clay before it was fired. They were thus the precursors, 
or, it may be, the originators, of the fine black bodies 
of Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire manu- 

The Elers conducted their operations with perfect 
secrecy. No strangers were admitted to their pottery. 
The windows were blinded. Only the stupidest work- 
men were employed to turn the thrower's wheel. Even 
idiots were preferred, while those workmen who appeared 
more than ordinarily skilful were sworn to secrecy. 
They were locked up while at work, and were carefully 
examined when they left the premises. 

These measures excited the prying inquisitiveness 
of the Burslem potters. The men were foreigners ; any- 
thing was lawful against foreigners. They manufactured 

1 6 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

their fine wares in secret; the secret must be dis- 
covered. Two Burslem potters, Astbury and Twyford, 
set their wits to work. Astbury pretended to be an 
idiot. He applied at the pottery for work; obtained 
it, and was set to turn the wheel. To maintain his 
character of idiot, he made numerous mistakes; he 
quietly submitted to the kicks and cuffs which the 
other workmen bestowed upon him. 

But all the while Astbury's eyes were very wide 
open. In turning the wheel he carefully witnessed 
every process, and examined particularly every utensil 
which was employed. " The ass," as he was supposed 
to be, was allowed to go through every department of 
the work, and on returning home at night he made 
models of the various implements employed. He also 
preserved careful memoranda of the various processes 
he had seen. He remained in the works for two years, 
and at the end of that time he was master of the 
" secrets " of the Elers' manufactory. 

About the same time, Twyford, another Burslem 
potter, discovered the same secrets, but it is unnecessary 
to describe his pretences of idiocy. On their discharge, 
both began business on their own account at Shelton. 
They made red ware, crouch ware, and white stoneware 
from the native clays, using salt glaze for some of the 
vessels and lead ore for others. Astbury seems to have 
been the more successful of the two. He made journeys 
to London, where he sold his ware, and obtained further 

ii The Wedgwood Family 17 

The Elers were disgusted with the treatment which 
they had received at Burslem. They eventually left 
the place, and in 1710 removed to Chelsea, where 
they connected themselves with a party of Venetian 
glass -makers, who had established themselves under 
the auspices of the Duke of Buckingham. The Elers 
also started a manufactory of pottery. Their porcelain 
achieved a very high reputation, and until the time of 
Josiah Wedgwood their pottery ware was considered to 
be the best in the country. 

By whatever means Astbury had mastered the secrets 
of the Elers, he was a man of invention and originality, 
and did much to accelerate the improvement of stone- 
ware in Staffordshire. When he commenced business 
at Shelton, he began to use pipeclay for coating over 
and washing the insides of vessels. Tobacco-pipe clays 
are found all over the country. In the reign of Eliza- 
beth, the pipes were so small and of such a peculiar 
shape that they were known as "fairy pipes" the 
same sort of pipes that the late Charles Keene used to 
smoke. In course of time they were made larger, but 
always of white clay. Astbury, by constant improve- 
ments, eventually produced his white-dipped ware, and 
white stoneware, which became an important article of 

Astbury was also the first to discover, though it was 
by accident, the uses of burnt flint in the manufacture 
of stoneware. While travelling on horseback the 
usual method of travelling in those days he found, on 


1 8 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

arriving at Banbury, that the horse on which he had 
ridden was so much affected in the eyes that Astbury 
feared that blindness would result. He conversed with 
the ostler at the inn on the subject, and the latter 
recommended the employment of burnt flint. This 
was quite a new idea to Astbury. However, a piece of 
flint was put into the fire, and allowed to become red 
hot. After the flint had cooled it was reduced to 
powder, some of which was blown into the horse's eyes, 
producing such immediate and effectual relief that 
Astbury was enabled to proceed on his journey. He 
was an observant man, and was much struck by the 
pure whiteness which the flint attained on being 
burnt, and the ease with which it might be reduced 
to powder. 

On returning to Shelton he obtained some flints, 
burnt them, and introduced them into his clay. The 
result was a finer and whiter kind of ware than any 
that had yet been produced. He shortly obtained a 
preference for his ware, and when the secret became 
known for nothing can be long kept a secret in the 
pottery district ground flint soon became a general 
ingredient in the potter's materials. 

One of the earliest connections of Brindley with 
Staffordshire was the erection by him of an improved 
flint-grinding mill, near Burslem, in 1758. The flint 
was eventually ground and used in water, so as to 
avoid the lung diseases to which potters were subject 
when flint was ground in its dry state. It must also 

ii The Wedgwood Family 19 

be stated that one Thomas Benson was the first to make 
the discovery of grinding flints in water. 

Samuel Astbury, son of the eminent potter, married 
Miss Elizabeth Wedgwood, sister of Thomas Wedgwood, 
father of Josiah, and thus the ability of the Astburys 
was united to the genius of the Wedgwoods and their 



ON the death of Thomas Wedgwood, in June 1*739, his 
youngest son Josiah, who was only nine years old, was 
taken from Mr. Blunt's school at Newcastle-under- 
Lyme, and was shortly after employed at his brother's 
pottery. Thomas, the eldest son, had succeeded to the 
small estate and the pottery business, with provision 
for the maintenance of his mother and her large 

Josiah early displayed a taste for modelling. While 
at school he showed some knowledge of cutting out 
designs on paper. He had the run of his brother's 
factory, and soon after he left school he distinguished 
himself by his readiness to imitate in clay whatever 
objects struck his fancy. He seems to have had a 
natural bent towards modelling. He often amused 
his acquaintances with imitations in clay of toy figures. 
His clay model of a mountebank's stage, with the 
doctor and his suite, and all the usual accompaniments, 
excited much admiration amongst his friends. 

CHAP, in Learns his Trade 2 1 

The next event of which we have positive know- 
ledge is, that Josiah was apprenticed to his brother 
Thomas at the age of fourteen. The deed of his 
apprenticeship is still preserved in the Hanley Museum. 
Five years is the term of apprenticeship mentioned 
in the indenture, but as seven years was the usual 
period allowed in such agreements, it is inferred that 
Josiah had already served for some time in the pottery 
when his apprenticeship commenced. Shaw, the local 
historian, states that he worked as a thrower at the 
early age of eleven years ; and he adds that a workman 
of his day, named John Fletcher, could remember 
making balls of clay for Josiah and his elder brother 
Eichard, both throwers, when they were seated at two 
corners of a small room, and he was placed between 

The pottery turned out at the Churchyard Works 
was of a common description, consisting chiefly of 
black and mottled ware, baking dishes, pitchers, milk- 
pans, porringers, and such like. Butter -pots were 
made in large numbers. The butter-pot was a coarse 
cylindrical vessel, about fourteen inches high, made 
from the clay found in the neighbourhood of Burslem. 
These pots were glazed before firing, with a mixture of 
lead and manganese, and were sent on the cratemen's 
backs to every part of the adjoining country, or sold 
to the higglers, who carried them from village to village 
in the panniers of their donkeys. 

Josiah continued to apply himself to the art of 

22 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

throwing. The thrower is the person who sits in his 
shed, near the potter's wheel, and forms by hand from 
the moist clay, as it revolves, the crock, the butter- 
pot, the porringer, and such like wares. A work- 
man weighs a portion of clay, and hands it to the 
thrower, who is seated at his revolving disc. The boy 
or girl employed for the purpose turns the wheel, 
which is attached to the disc by a band. The disc is 
made to rotate horizontally, while the thrower, who is 
seated, fashions the vessel by his hands and fingers, after 
the patterns or guides before him, which have been pre- 
pared for the purpose. Thus the throwing is the first and 
most important operation in forming the shape of vessels. 
There are other workmen employed in finishing the 
ware. For instance, the Stouker, in another shed, 
forms the handles of the vessels, and attaches them 
while moist to the cup or porringer ; while in another 
shed the ware is ornamented with various coloured 
slips. Thomas, to a slight extent, improved the manu- 
facture, as, for example, by making moulded ware, which 
was a somewhat higher branch of his business. But it 
was only when Josiah began to achieve distinction that 
this part of the manufacture attracted attention. 
Several of his early pieces were designed chiefly for the 
tea-table and the dessert service ; they were moulded 
very neatly in the form of pine-apples, leaves, shells, 
and other natural productions. This talent he after- 
wards applied in the extensive manufacture of his 
famous Jasper models. 


Learns his Trade 23 

It was observed that, though very young, Josiah 
made rapid progress as a thrower. He had a remark- 
able e}^e for proportioning the clay under his hands; 
and his skill in forming the vessel on the potter's 
wheel soon attracted the admiration of his fellow- 
workmen. But an unfortunate attack of a malignant 
disease compelled him for a time to abandon this 
department of his trade. 

In 1741, when Josiah was over eleven years old, 
virulent smallpox broke out in Burslem. The house in 
which the Wedgwoods lived was close to the church- 
yard, and the children of the family were mostly 
attacked by that horrible disease. One of the worst 
cases was that of the young thrower, who was covered 
with confluent pustules from head to foot. He was 
almost at death's door, but, though he fortunately 
escaped with his life, he was, long after his partial 
recovery, left in a state of almost utter prostration. 

One of the worst effects of the disease was the agon- 
izing pain which he suffered in his right knee. Doctors 
were consulted, but no application no fomentation, 
liniment, or leeching could alleviate his suffering. 
After many weeks of agony he tried to rise from his 
bed, but fell back again helpless. At length he got 
up and tried crutches, but found he could scarcely 
walk. The pain, it is true, abated, but the knee was 
comparatively useless through stiffness and deadness. 
By and by, as his strength increased, he was able to 
return to his work. 

24 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

His brother Thomas having already observed his 
efficiency as a thrower, which had attracted the atten- 
tion of his fellow- workmen, determined to attach Josiah 
to his work by binding him as his apprentice. Three 
years had elapsed since his entering the works, but in 
his fourteenth year (llth November 1744) the ceremony 
of permanently securing him was performed. The 
indenture was drawn up, signed, and witnessed by him- 
self, his mother, his eldest brother (the head of the 
pottery works), and his two uncles, Samuel Astbury 
and Abner Wedgwood. 

The indenture provided that Josiah Wedgwood was 
to be apprenticed to his brother for five years, and that 
he was to " learn the Art, Mystery, Occupation or Im- 
ployment of Throwing and Handling, which he, the 
said Thomas Wedgwood, now useth, and with him as an 
Apprentice, to Dwell, Continue, and Serve," until the 
expiration of the term agreed on. The apprentice was 
to be allowed his meat, drink, washing and lodging, 
with suitable apparel "of all kinds, both linen and 
woollen, and all other necessaries, both in sickness and 
in health"; in return for which his master was to teach, 
or cause him to be taught, "the art of throwing and 
handling " ; but nothing was said in the indenture as to 
any wages to be paid to the apprentice. 

The year after Josiah's indenture was signed, in 
1745, the Highland Eebellion broke out, and Prince 
Charlie, at the head of a small army, had the hardihood 
to invade England. They passed through Cumberland 


Learns his Trade 25 

and the northern counties, and entering North Stafford- 
shire, halted at Leek, and when they reached Bagnall 
the Pretender and his staff, uninvited, breakfasted 
at Justice Marshall's. The rebels plundered the 
house, and made the Justice pay a fine of 300. 
Ward, in his History of Stoke-upon- Trent, 1 relates the 
incredible story of Justice Marshall having afterwards 
caught a sick Highlander, had him flayed, and sent his 
hide to be tanned for a drumhead ! 

The Pretender and his army reached Derby, but 
proceeded no further. In all haste they retreated to 
the North. The Duke of Cumberland, with an increas- 
ing army, lay for a time at Shelton and Stone. The 
people of the county were apathetic, though they could 
not but feel excited by the invasion of the wild moun- 
taineers. The country was, however, soon cleared, and 
the poor unfortunate Highlanders were eventually 
trodden down at Culloden. 

To return to the apprenticeship of Wedgwood. He 
was now fifteen years old. His right knee still con- 
tinued stiff and painful. Eemedies were applied and 
rest taken, but without avail. He could only sit while 
at work with his right leg extended before him on 
a stool. This attitude so hampered his position at 
the wheel and interfered with his efficiency that 
he was under the necessity of altogether abandoning 
the thrower's bench. It might be supposed by some 
that this was a calamity, but in reality it proved a 

1 P. 230. 

26 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

blessing. We often repine at what we call our "ill- 
luck," when, in truth, a mercy has been vouchsafed to 
us. This inability to continue at the thrower's bench 
proved the turning-point of Wedgwood's career. 

The Eight Honourable W. E. Gladstone, in his address 
at Burslem on the founding of the Wedgwood Memorial 
Institute, 1 feelingly observed : " Then comes the well- 
known smallpox, the settling of the dregs of the disease 
in the lower part of the leg, and the eventual amputa- 
tion of the limb, rendering him lame for life. It is not 
often that we have such palpable occasion to record our 
obligations to the smallpox. But, in the wonderful 
ways of Providence, that disease, which came to him as 
a twofold scourge, was probably the occasion of his 
subsequent excellence. It prevented him from growing 
up to be the active vigorous workman, possessed of all 
his limbs, and knowing right well the use of them ; but 
it put him upon considering whether, as he could not 
be that, he might not be something else, and something 
greater. It sent his mind inwards; it drove him to 
meditate upon the laws and secrets of his art. The 
result was, that he arrived at a perception and grasp of 
them which might, perhaps, have been envied, certainly 
have been owned, by an Athenian potter. Relentless 
criticism has long since torn to pieces the old legend of 
King Numa receiving in a cavern, from the Nymph 
Egeria, the laws which were to govern Rome. But no 

1 Wedgwood : an Address delivered at Burslem, Staffordshire, 26th 
October 1863. 


Learns his Trade 27 

criticism can shake the record of that illness, and that 
mutilation of the boy Josiah Wedgwood, which made 
for him a cavern of his bedroom, and an oracle of his 
own inquiring, searching, meditative, fruitful mind." 

Many years, however, elapsed before the amputation 
of his right leg. In the interval he suffered severely, 
yet he never relaxed his efforts to improve himself, 
being still courageous, patient, and valiant, even in the 
midst of tormenting pain. Being unable to pursue the 
work of a Thrower, he went to the Moulder's board. 
He first turned his attention to improvements in minor 
points of detail ; but in course of time, as his experi- 
ence became enlarged, he devised and sought out new 
methods of manufacture. One of his earliest efforts 
was an ornamented teapot, formed from the ochreous 
clay of the district. It is still carefully preserved at 
Burslem, and is known as "Josiah Wedgwood's first 

He next proceeded to the manufacture of ornamental 
small wares, such as plates, pickle-leaves, knife-hafts, 
and snuff-boxes in imitation of agate, marble, tortoise- 
shell, and porphyry, which were readily disposed of to 
the cutlers and hardwaremen of Sheffield and Birming- 
ham. In the preparation of these objects, Wedgwood 
analysed and made experiments with the various clays 
of the neighbourhood ; and he endeavoured to find out 
new methods of colouring them with metallic calces. 
Indeed, he spent so much time on his experiments, that 
his brother, who was also his master, expostulated with 

28 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

him, and exhorted him to confine himself to the beaten 
track of the trade. Nevertheless, Josiah continued to 
pursue his experiments as before. It was not so much 
that he desired to be original, as that he resolved to 
pursue his profession to the furthest limits of efficiency 
and beauty. 

While still in his apprenticeship, Josiah's mother 
died in 1748, and was laid beside her husband in 
the churchyard at Burslem, adjoining the pottery 
works. Josiah, who was now about eighteen years old, 
continued to live in the same house with his brothers 
and sisters, who were all older than himself, but 
Josiah was the only one of the thirteen children who 
arrived at any distinction. His brother Eichard, who 
was five years his senior, was a thrower, and had 
worked in the same room as Josiah; but, becoming 
tired of the pottery trade, he left the works and enlisted 
as a soldier. He went away and never returned to 
Burslem. It is not altogether surprising that Richard 
Wedgwood thought he could do as well as a soldier, 
for the wages paid to young men at the potteries were 
very small. William Fletcher, who made balls of clay 
for the two brothers, was paid fourpence a week for 
the first year, sixpence for the second, and ninepence 
for the third. 

Besides what we have said as to Josiah's progress, 
comparatively little is known of him during his ap- 
prenticeship. Mr. Llewellyn Jewitt, however, says of 
him : " I have heard it from those best able to know 


Learns his Trade 29 

from some of the oldest inhabitants of the place that 
in their boyhood, at the end of last century, they were 
continually admonished by their parents and grand- 
parents to be good, as Wedgwood had been, and to lead 
such a life as he, as a youth, had done before them. 
It is pleasant to put this fact on record, and to hear this 
kind of testimony given to the character of this great 
man even when young that he was held up to the 
youth of his native place as a pattern for emulation." 

There is no doubt that during his apprenticeship he 
contracted a great fondness for his business, and that 
he followed it through life with an alacrity which 
rendered it more like an amusement than a matter of 
labour. He made himself minutely acquainted with 
all the branches of the then existing art, both of those 
which had, as well as those which had not as yet been 
introduced into his brother's manufactory. He not only 
grounded himself in all the chemical and mechanical 
parts of the potter's art then known, but he showed a 
desire to extend and develop their application. Even 
at this early period he made several curious improve- 
ments, and produced the first pieces, though only small 
ones by way of specimen, of the afterwards celebrated 
cream-coloured or Queen's Ware. 

To us, who look back on Josiah Wedgwood's suc- 
cessful career in early life, it is surprising that his own 
family should have failed to recognise the value of his 
energy and perseverance, and that he should have been 
driven to seek encouragement for his talents at the 

30 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP, m 

hands of strangers. But it must be remembered that 
at the time when Thomas Wedgwood succeeded to his 
father's business the pottery trade of Staffordshire was 
an insignificant manufacture compared with what it 
became during Josiah's lifetime. 

Nor was it any fault of Thomas Wedgwood's that 
he could not look into the future and foretell the value 
of his brother's abilities, or foresee the rising tide of 
success in the pottery trade. He knew the modest but 
fairly sure lines upon which his ancestors had worked, 
and he was doubtless influenced by older relatives in 
the determination he arrived at, not to risk in uncertain 
ventures the slender provision left to help so large a 
family out into the world. Josiah was, therefore, in- 
formed that he must take his speculative schemes 
elsewhere, as the family property was not to be placed 
by him in any sort of jeopardy. 



JOSIAH'S apprenticeship ended in November 1749. 
He had now nearly arrived at man's estate. As his 
brother would not have him for a partner, being greatly 
opposed to Josiah's " flights of fancy," the latter had to 
wait for some other opportunity. He was of course 
disappointed, but he was satisfied to wait. His mother 
having died in the previous year, Thomas was left to 
maintain her numerous family. 

Josiah continued to work with his brother for two 
years as journeyman, at small wages ; but on arriving 
at maturity, he was paid the 20 which had been 
bequeathed to him by his father. It was a very small 
capital on which to begin the operations of his life; 
but with Josiah's skill, energy, and perseverance, it 
proved to be enough. 

Wedgwood removed from Burslem to Stoke in 1752 
when he was twenty-two years old. He then entered into 
partnership with John Harrison of Cliffe Bank Pottery, 
near Stoke -upon -Trent. Harrison, who was not a 

32 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

practical potter, but had been a tradesman at Newcastle- 
under-Lyrne, supplied the capital, while Wedgwood 
supplied the brains. The principal wares he made were 
mottled earthenware, knife-handles in imitation of agate 
and various kinds of tortoise-shell and marble. These 
were mostly sold to hardware-makers at Sheffield and 

The arrangement did not last very long, for after 
two years, Harrison, who wished to appropriate to 
himself the larger share of the profits, went out of 
the firm, and Thomas Whieldon came in. The manu- 
factory had been carried on at the top of Stoke, in 
what had been Mr. Alferson's pottery. After the 
separation of Wedgwood and Harrison, the latter failed. 
His cupidity had not served him. Mr. Josiah Spode 
bought his works at Stoke, pulled them down, and 
erected cottages in their stead. 

Mr. Whieldon, with whom Wedgwood now entered 
into partnership, was one of the most eminent potters 
of his day. It was of great advantage to Wedgwood 
to be connected with a man of so excellent a character 
and of such superior business habits. Whieldon's 
works were situated at Fenton Hall, near Stoke. The 
partnership began in 1754, and was to last for five 
years. Wedgwood was bound to introduce the secrets 
of the trade, and to practise them for the benefit of the 

One of his principal productions was a new Green 
earthenware, having the smoothness and appearance of 

iv Partnership with Harrison & Whieldon 33 

glass. Dessert services were made of this ware ; the 
plates were moulded in the form of leaves, and were 
beautifully ornamented. 

Wedgwood also made toilet vessels, snuff-boxes, and 
other articles coloured in imitation of precious stones 
for mounting on metal. The London jewellers, regarding 
these articles as entirely original, and the production of 
some new and valuable discovery, appreciated them 
accordingly, and sold them in considerable quantities. 

Wedgwood's right leg and knee still tormented him. 
He was often confined to his room, and quite unable to 
attend to the business of the manufactory. But the 
work must necessarily go forward, and as he was 
the managing partner, and the men must be occu- 
pied in manufacturing the earthenware so much in 
demand, he was under the necessity of revealing the 
knowledge of his mixtures and glazes to the principal 
foreman of the works. Thus the secret of his inven- 
tions became known, and the production of the green 
earthenware soon became a general manufacture in the 

Josiah Spode, afterwards a distinguished potter, was 
apprenticed in his boyhood to Whieldon and Wedg- 
wood. In accordance with the low rate of wages which 
then prevailed he was at first paid 2s. 6d. a week ; and 
when he became a journeyman, he was paid Vs. a week. 
The turners, and throwers, and firers, were paid 8s. a 

Very few manuscripts are preserved relating to the 

34 Josiah Wedgwood CHAR 

period of Josiah's partnership with Harrison and 
Whieldon. There is, however, a small green pocket- 
book containing memoranda in Josiah's writing, of 
orders under the dates 1752-1753, from which may be 
gathered a notion of the wares then produced. These 
are chiefly of the useful kind, such as blue-flowered 
cups and saucers, ash colour, cream colour, or tortoise- 
shell teapots, bason bowls, plates, and image toys. 
There is also in the same notebook a list of debts due 
in London, and dated 9th April 1753, amounting to 

Another set of balance-sheets for the year 1757 is 
also in existence, which refers only to a portion of the 
firm's sales ; and it shows a steady increase in business 
throughout the year. In the month of January the 
profits are entered at 3 : 16 : 7 ; in the month of May 
they amount to 28 odd ; and in the month of October 
to 36 odd. The expenses of production are entered 
on one side of the book, such as clay, coals, wages, 
saggers, painting, journeys, postage, and such like ; 
and on the opposite sheet is a list of the tradesmen 
who bought the ware. 

Among the Wedgwood manuscripts are a series of 
books, some being rough memoranda in the handwriting 
of Josiah "Wedgwood, and others, fair copies by Mr. 
Chisholm, in which are recorded a series of Wedgwood's 
experiments in pottery fabrics. The first volume opens 
thus : " This suite of experiments was begun at 
Fenton Hall, in the parish of Stoke-upon-Trent, about 

iv Partnership with Harrison & Whieldon 35 

the beginning of the year 1759, in my partnership with 
Mr. Whieldon, for the improvement of our manufacture 
of earthenware, which at that time stood in great need 
of it, the demand for our goods decreasing daily, and 
the trade being universally complained of as being bad 
and in a declining condition. 

"White stoneware (viz. with salt glaze) was the 
principal article of our manufacture ; but this had been 
made a long time, and the prices were now reduced 
so low that the potters could not afford to bestow 
much expense upon it, or make it so good in any re- 
spect as the ware would otherwise admit of; and with 
regard to elegance of form, that was an object very little 
attended to. 

" The article next in consequence to stoneware was 
an imitation of tortoise-shell, but as no improvement 
had been made in this branch for several years, the con- 
sumer had grown nearly tired of it; and though the 
price had been lowered from time to time in order to 
increase the sale, the expedient did not answer, and 
something new was wanted to give a little spirit to the 

" I had already made an imitation of Agate which 
was esteemed beautiful, and made a considerable im- 
provement, but people were surfeited with wares of these 
various colours. These considerations induced me to 
try for some more solid improvement, as well in the 
body as the glazes, the colours, and the forms of the 
articles of our manufacture. I saw the field was 

36 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

spacious, and the soil so good as to promise ample 
recompense to any one who should labour diligently in 
its cultivation. 

" In the following experiments I have expressed the 
materials by numbers, which in this instance are a 
species of shorthand, and saved much writing. They 
have also the advantage of not being intelligible, with- 
out the key, to any person who might happen to take 
up the book, which is often, in the course of making 
the experiments, unavoidably exposed to such an acci- 

Then follows the key to the cipher, giving the 
numbers and letters employed in noting the experi- 
ments. These represent the nature and quantity of the 
materials, the degrees of heat to which they had been 
exposed, together with miscellaneous observations, con- 
clusions, and hints for further inquiry. 

"The degrees of heat," says Wedgwood, "in my 
former books, were expressed by the different ovens, and 
the different parts of them where the experiment pieces 
had been fired in. G. 0. signifies the gloss oven ; B. 0. 
the biscuit oven ; W. 0. the white oven ; and the letters 
B. M. T. prefixed to these mean the bottom, middle, and 
top of the respective ovens. T. B. 0. means the highest 
part of the biscuit oven in which we put ware. It is 
below the top of the chimneys or flues, called lags by 
the potters ; and T. T. B. 0. signifies the uppermost 
sagger of the pile, except the one with which it is 


Partnership with Harrison & Whieldon 37 

" No other means than the above were at that time 
known, not only of communicating to any other person, 
but of preserving to myself, any idea of that very 
essential circumstance in experiments of this kind, the 
degree of heat to which the materials were exposed. 
But having lately invented a thermometer for measuring 
the higher degrees of heat, as far as we can go above 
ignition, the heats made use of in the several experi- 
ments are now expressed in the degrees of that ther- 

The first record of experiments bears the date of 
15th February 1759, and continues for several years. 
They are systematically and minutely set down in the 
beautiful handwriting of Mr. Chisholm, and would 
doubtless be of great interest to any scientific potter. 
Sometimes observations are introduced at the sides of 
the record, such as : " This merits further trial ; Try 
it again " ; " Coloured clays often proved in knife 
handles " ; " Colours to paint agate on the outside of 
the glaze after it is laid on the ware and before it is 
fired " ; " The crucible broke, try it again." 

Under the date of 13th February 1759, at Fenton, 
Wedgwood writes : " Trial for a blue to lay upon the 
biscuit ware along with other colours to imitate agate 
and tortoise-shell." Again, on the 23rd March 1759, 
while trying for glazes, he writes : " This is the com- 
position of Bow China, but I am not certain of the 
proportions." Also : " This is the result of many experi- 
ments which I have made in order to introduce a new 

38 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

species of coloured ware, to be fired along with the 
tortoise-shell and agate in our common gloss ovens." 
He also records, at Fenton, 28th March 1760 : " Trial 
for a cutting colour to trace flower, etc., upon plain 
biscuit ware and to bear a lead gloss laid over it." And 
again : " Trials for red China. Agate paint for spouts 
and handles to prevent colour from running down the 
teapot ; very good results." 

In another portion of his record, Wedgwood refers to 
his green glaze, which, he says, "is to be laid on 
common or cream colour biscuit ware. This is the 
ordinary copper green glaze of the dessert services." In 
the remarks column, he says: "This is the result of 
many experiments which I made in order to introduce 
a new species of coloured ware to be fired along with 
the tortoise-shell or agate ware in our common gloss 
ovens, to be of an even self colour, and laid upon the 
ware in the form of a coloured glaze." 

We have been thus particular in recording the early 
experiments of Wedgwood while a partner with 
Harrison and Whieldon. They will doubtless be found 
tedious reading to many, but it is necessary to give the 
extracts from his record books in order to show the 
pains which he took, by his early and careful experi- 
ments, to revive the pottery trade, then in a state of 
great depression. They will show that Josiah's future 
prosperity was not the result of " chance," but of steady 
and persevering application. Every experiment was 
carefully recorded. He would not trust to his memory, 

iv Partnership with Harrison & Whieldon 39 

but only to the written record ; and it may be added 
that the result of his skill and perseverance gradually 
led to the general improvement of the pottery trade. 

The five years' partnership with Whieldon expired in 
1759, and Wedgwood was then left to his own devices. 
Whieldon retired from the pottery manufacture with a 
considerable fortune. He built a handsome house near 
Stoke, where he long continued to enjoy the fruits of 
his industry. He was greatly esteemed for his charity 
and benevolence ; was made sheriff of the county 
of Stafford in 1786, and he died twelve years after at a 
very advanced age. 



ON the conclusion of his partnership with Whieldon, 
Wedgwood set up for himself a small manufactory at 
his native village of Burslem, in a pottery known as The 
Ivy Works. The site of these works is now partly occu- 
pied by the Burslem Market Place and Municipal 
offices. The exact date of Wedgwood's commencing 
business on his own account is not known ; but it 
must have been after the month of March 1760, as 
the record of experiments above cited contains an entry 
dated " Fenton, 28th March 1*760." 

However this may be, it is clear that Wedgwood 
had started in business at Burslem in 1760, and the 
probability is, that he was enabled to do so by means 
of the savings he had made in the partnership with 
Whieldon, as well as of the small legacy which he 
had inherited from his father. He was now thirty 
years of age. We have seen how careful and observ- 
ant he had been as a young man, and how desirous 
he was of advancing the manufacture to which he 

CHAP, v Wedgwood begins Business for Himself 4 1 

had devoted himself. Though his means were incon- 
siderable, he thought that he might not only make the 
ends meet, but perhaps he might eventually make a 
mark during his lifetime in the development of the art 
of pottery. 

The constant pain he had suffered from his injured 
knee had in many respects been a sore hindrance and 
disadvantage ; but by curtailing his bodily powers, 
and keeping him often confined to his bed, it had 
produced increased activity of mind. He never allowed 
himself to be idle, and he had read much, and thought 

He borrowed books from his friends, and read them 
assiduously, especially those which bore upon his 
favourite art. He also improved himself in arithmetic, 
geography, and the knowledge of English. Some of 
the books which he borrowed, especially those upon 
chemistry and the mixture and combination of clays, 
he copied in his own hand, for purposes of reference. 
When he had gained some strength and found himself 
sufficiently well to be able to rise and move about, 
he began a series of experiments with the clays of the 
neighbourhood ; and he thus commenced a course of 
technical practical education, which proved of the 
greatest value to him in after life. 

When he commenced business for himself at Burs- 
lem, Wedgwood rented a portion of the Ivy House and 
Works from his distant cousins John and Thomas 
Wedgwood. The rental was only 10 a year, the 

42 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

working premises consisting of two kilns, a few tile- 
covered sheds and rooms, and the adjoining Ivy-covered 

Among the hands whom he employed was his 
second cousin Thomas Wedgwood, who was engaged as 
a journeyman for five years at the wages of 22 a 
year, or at the rate of about 8s. 6d. a week. Thomas 
had been a potter at the Worcester works, and brought 
with him the knowledge of the art which he had ac- 
quired at that important manufactory. 

Wedgwood had other workmen, though they were 
comparatively few in number. Indeed, he had con- 
siderable difficulty with these workmen, who were 
wedded to their own ways, and could scarcely be 
brought into conformity with their new master's modes 
of workmanship. It was only by his own personal in- 
fluence that Wedgwood succeeded in moulding them to 
his own methods, for he himself conducted in person 
the production of every article that proceeded from his 
works. He made his own models, superintended the 
firing of the ware, and was constantly employed in 
the various departments of the pottery manufacture. 
In doing so, he overcame to a large extent the 
trammels of his bodily afflictions. 

At first he devoted himself more particularly to the 
ordinary classes of ware which formed the staple pro- 
ductions of the district; but by carefulness in the 
manufacture, he gradually acquired a reputation which 
led to a considerable increase in his trade. He con- 

v Wedgwood begins B^l sine ss for Himself 43 

tinned also to make his green glazed ware, his tortoise- 
shell and tinted snuff-boxes, his perforated dessert plates, 
which soon obtained considerable celebrity. He in- 
troduced his white medallions, in which he eventually 
achieved great celebrity, and began to ornament his 
ware with flowers and foliage, sometimes gilt and some- 
times coloured, always striving at something new and 

He prided himself upon his own specially-designed 
tea-services, in which the different vessels were formed 
and coloured to represent joints and vegetables, just 
as Bernard Palissy had done in France at an early 
period of his earthenware manufacture. These novelties 
proved so attractive that they had a very large sale ; 
and the other pottery manufacturers always watching 
with interest the new designs of Wedgwood at once 
imitated them, and they very soon led to a large in- 
crease in the trade of the district. Wedgwood also 
began his works in relief, such as storks fishing, or 
ducks casting water into a fountain from their bills, 
and many other devices. 

His connection and reputation rapidly increasing, he 
found it necessary to increase his establishment, and to 
employ additional hands. He hired some new works 
and furnaces not far from the Ivy House, on the site now 
partly occupied by the Wedgwood Institute. As his 
health improved, he was able to devote himself more 
zealously to his rapidly-growing enterprises. The land- 
lord of his new premises was Mr. John Bourne, and 

44 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

Wedgwood continued to be his tenant until his removal 
from Burslem. 

The new premises were called the Brickhouse Works, 
though they were afterwards known among the work- 
men as the Bell Works. The reason of this sobriquet 
was as follows : The potters had been summoned to 
their labours by sounding a blast on a cow's 
horn. The sound did not travel very far ; and 
the workmen used to loiter lazily into the works 
just as they pleased, everything apparently going 
on in a very indifferent manner. But Wedgwood 
adopted a better plan. He erected a cupola contain- 
ing a loud Bell, the sound of which travelled very 
far, and thus the working people were called more 
rapidly together. 

One of Wedgwood's principal difficulties, as with all 
employers in those days, was the management and dis- 
cipline of his workmen. They were irregular in their 
habits, disposed to be lazy, and there was a consequent 
want of order in the workrooms. Their drunkenness 
was one of the greatest difficulties he had to contend 
against. But Wedgwood had infinite patience. He 
made himself the workmen's friend in many ways. He 
counselled them to save their earnings for the benefit 
of themselves and their families. By slow degrees he 
won their gratitude and affection. He enlightened 
their judgment, and the wisest of them became his best 
friends. One of his best arguments was the success of 
his undertakings. The men saw his fresh enterprises 

v Wedgwood begins Business far Himself 45 

turning into gold, and they were not likely to hinder 
what was obviously to their advantage as well as his 
own. Thus order and discipline at length prevailed in 
the management of the works. 

At the period when Wedgwood began business for 
himself, the workmanship of the potters was in a very 
low condition as to style. The machinery used con- 
sisted mainly of the potter's wheel and the common 
turning lathe ; while the chief tools used were little 
better than a few cutting-knives. Wedgwood, with his 
nicety . of feeling, and his determination to do every 
piece of work in the best possible manner, introduced 
many new tools and appliances. He instructed his 
men individually in their use, and sought to form them, 
as it were, after his own model. He taught them the 
use of the new tools, and personally superintended 
everything, from the clay on the wheel to the final 
firing and decoration of the ware. His workmen had 
been brought up on the old lines, making rude pottery, 
with insufficient appliances. Compare the refinement 
of materials, the delicate accuracy of form, and the soft 
texture of one of Wedgwood's Queen's ware pieces, 
with the rough pansion-mug wares generally in vogue 
when he commenced his operations, and it will at once 
be apparent that vast strides had been made amongst 
his workpeople while passing from the old style to 
the new. 

One of Wedgwood's greatest difficulties was in con- 
structing his firing kilns. Eepeated failures were most 

4.6 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

disheartening, and he was almost as much distressed 
as . Bernard Palissy was in his search for the enamel, 
though he did not, like him, require to burn up his 
furniture in order to keep his furnaces in sufficient 
heat. The precarious activity of fire, and the inequality 
of its force, even in different parts of the same kiln, are 
formidable impediments. Common wares admit of con- 
siderable latitude in the heat, and in an established 
manufactory, experience enables an attentive workman 
to regulate the fire pretty successfully. 

But in wares of an improved kind this cannot be 
done. In all the porcelains and fine wares, whose 
qualities depend essentially upon a certain degree of 
semi-vitrif action, the hazard is very great. Even in the 
heat that is just sufficient for the perfection of the ware, 
it receives such a softness and flexibility, that large 
vessels, necessary for the use of the dining-table, bend 
and alter their form in the kiln by their own weight, 
and a little increase of fire runs the whole into a 
vitreous mass. 

When Wedgwood began to make fine ware for the 
table, his repeated failures with his furnaces were most 
disastrous. The labour and expense of a month were 
destroyed in a few hours. One kiln had to be pulled 
down, and another built up ; the new one also found 
defective, from circumstances which could not have been 
foreseen; the correction of an error in one quarter 
followed by another elsewhere. Yet he conquered by 
dint of observation and experience ; after losing much 

v Wedgwood begins Biisiness for Himself 47 

money, time, and labour, it is true ; but he would not 
be baulked. The improvement of pottery became his 
passion; and at length success crowned his indomit- 
able efforts. 

He spent his evenings, and a considerable portion of 
his nights, in scheming and designing the works of the 
succeeding day. Like Napoleon, he held that nothing 
was "impossible." After contriving everything, he 
declared that it " must be done," let what might stand 
in the way. His workmen began to believe in him; 
and eventually succeeded in fulfilling his strongly- 
desired objects. They helped him with his kilns, his 
drying pans, his tools, and the other apparatus which 
he contrived from time to time, to carry out the 
improvements in his new manufactures. His decision 
of mind was ready to encounter and overcome any 
situation of difficulty, while his indomitable persever- 
ance and unfailing resource communicated themselves 
to his subordinates and inspired them with a genuine 
interest in their work. 

But it was not his evenings only that occupied his 
mind with designing and contriving the methods of 
work for the ensuing day. He contracted a habit of 
thinking during the night over all that had occurred 
during the day that had passed ; and of all that he had 
to accomplish in the coming day his kilns, his tools, 
his wares, or his models. He usually surmounted his 
difficulties before the return of the morning, when he 
was up and ready to go on with his labours. When 

48 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

his friend Brindley, the engineer, had a difficult problem 
to solve, he lay in bed for one, two, or even three days, 
until he had effectually designed his plan, and then he 
would rise and carry out his work, from memory only ; 
but Wedgwood could not leave his workmen for days 
together. He must rise, proceed to the works, and 
superintend their daily operations. 

But he felt the inconvenience of this custom of 
thinking during the night in the advanced period of his 
life ; because if any matter of business occupied his 
mind before he went to rest, it was sure to deprive him 
of sleep for the greater part of the night. Wedgwood 
had always a very active mind ; but this activity 
eventually proved an obstacle to his bodily health, 
which was never very robust nor vigorous. 

One of Wedgwood's early friends was Matthew 
Boulton of Soho, near Birmingham. Wedgwood was 
accustomed to supply Boulton with vases, snuff-boxes, 
and other articles to be mounted by the mechanics of 
Birmingham, and made ready for the market. On one 
occasion Boulton wrote to Wedgwood that he admired 
his vases so much that he " almost wished to be a 
potter " ; but he was satisfied with mounting in metal 
the vases which Wedgwood had made. 

Boulton was a man of great practical genius, as 
well as an excellent organiser. By his skill and energy 
he had completed and organised a splendid manufactory 
at Soho, which was the admiration of every man of 
business. Wedgwood, knowing this, had consulted 

v Wedgwood begins Business for Himself 49 

Boulton as to the management of his own rapidly ex- 
tending business, not only at Burslem, but afterwards 
at Etruria ; and the two became, as will afterwards be 
seen, exceedingly intimate friends and correspondents. 

With every day's reflection and experience, Wedg- 
wood's industry, energy, and taste improved. His great 
ambition was to rival the works of the Etruscans, and 
to raise the Staffordshire potters' art far above the then 
standard of excellence, and to rival not only the costly 
earthenware of foreign countries, but that of long past 
ages. Hence the extreme skill, intelligence, and taste 
which he brought to bear upon every branch of his 
native and favourite art. 

It was not merely in objects of taste that Wedg- 
wood endeavoured to excel, but also in objects of com- 
mon use. It was at the Bell Works that he turned his 
attention more especially to the fine and delicate 
descriptions of earthenware which shortly after earned 
for him the proud distinction of " Queen's Potter." 
The results of his close and incessant occupation, and of 
his endless experiments as to the properties of clays, 
kaolin, carbonate of barytes, and such like, led to the 
production of many marvellous kinds of ware, and to 
the beauty of finish which characterised them, such as 
are to be rarely equalled at the present day. 

Mr. Gladstone truly said, in his doge of Wedgwood 
at Burslem, that his specialty lay in the adaptation of 
every object to its proper end. " His most signal and 
characteristic merit lay in the firmness and fulness 


50 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

with which he perceived the true law of what we term 
Industrial Art, or, in other words, of the application of 
the higher Art to Industry ; the law which teaches us 
to aim first at giving to every object the greatest 
possible degree of fitness and convenience for its pur- 
pose, and next at making it the vehicle of the highest 
degree of Beauty which, compatibly with that of fitness 
and convenience, it will bear ; which does not substitute 
the secondary for the primary end, but which re- 
cognises, as part of the business of production, the study 
to harmonise the two. To have a strong grasp of the 
principle, and to work it out to its results in the details 
of a vast and varied manufacture, is a praise high 
enough for any man at any time and at any place. But 
it was higher and more peculiar, as I think, in the 
case of Wedgwood, than in almost any other case 
it could be. For that truth of Art, which he saw 
so clearly, and which lies at the root of excellence, 
was one of which England, his country, has not usually 
had a perception at all corresponding in strength and 
fulness with her other rare endowments. She has long 
taken a lead among the nations of Europe for the 
cheapness of her manufactures : not so for their beauty. 
And if the day shall ever come, when she shall be 
as eminent in true taste, as she is now in economy 
of production, my belief is that that result will prob- 
ably be due to no other single man in so great a 
degree as to Wedgwood." x 

1 Wedgwood : an Address, by the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone. 

v Wedgwood begins Business for Himself 5 1 

Though Wedgwood's time was almost fully occupied 
with his own concerns, he yet found leisure to attend 
to the improvement of the roads leading to and from 
Burslem, which were then in a villainous condition. 
It was before the days of Macadam, and the hollow 
lanes were narrow, tortuous, miry, and in all ways 
abominable. Stones were thrown in by passers-by at 
the deepest places ; but there was no such thing as 
local superintendence. The trade of the district, it is 
true, was not very great ; but, under the influence of 
Wedgwood, it was rapidly increasing. The population 
of the pottery districts was only about 7000 in 1760, 
the year when Wedgwood began business on his own 
account ; but the growing and expanding trade could 
only be encouraged by improving the condition of the 
roads and byways. 

The principal materials used iu the manufacture 
of the best kinds of pottery were brought from con- 
siderable distances ; flint stones from the south-eastern 
parts of England, and the best kinds of porcelain 
clay from Devonshire and Cornwall. The flints were 
brought by sea to Hull, and the finer clay to Liver- 
pool. Considerable quantities of clay were also con- 
veyed in boats up the Severn to Bridgnorth and 
Bewdley, whence the materials were conveyed, chiefly 
on pack-horses, to the villages in the potteries, where 
they were worked up into earthenware. 

The manufactured articles were returned for con- 
sumption and export in the same rude manner. Crates 

52 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

of earthenware were slung across the backs of horses or 
donkeys, and sent off to their respective destinations. 
They were subject to breakage and pilferage ; and often 
the poor brutes fell down in the miry and narrow ways, 
and a whole crateful of ware was smashed. Even 
when the ware reached its destination, the cost of 
transport was very heavy. The lowest charge was 
eight shillings a ton for ten miles. The result of this 
difficulty of transporting the ware was to restrict in 
an immense degree the distribution and consumption 
of the lower-priced articles in common use. The same 
obstacles prevented the conveyance of salt, an indis- 
pensable article, which reached almost a fabulous 
price by the time it was sold some two or three 
counties distant. All other articles of consumption 
woollen, corn, coal, lime, and ironstone were con- 
veyed in the same way, on the backs of pack-horses, 
and thus living was rendered very expensive, and 
agriculture and industry of all kinds were seriously im- 
peded and hindered. 

This great evil of the want of road communica- 
tion weighed heavily, not only upon the industry, 
but upon the civilisation of the district ; and this fact, 
recognised by Wedgwood at an early period of his 
career, drew his attention to the state of the highways. 
He took the leading part in promoting an application 
to Parliament for powers to repair and widen the road 
from the Red Bull at Lawton in Cheshire to the Cliff 
Bank in Staffordshire. Such a line of road, if formed, 

v Wedgwood begins Business for Himself 53 

would run right through the centre of the potteries, 
and fall at either end into a turnpike road. 

The bill was not, however, obtained without con- 
siderable difficulty. It was violently opposed by the 
inhabitants of Newcastle-under-Lyme, on the ground 
that the proposed new road would enable the pack- 
horses and carts to travel north and south without 
passing through their town. The public-house keepers 
acted as if they had a vested interest in the atrocious 
badness of the roads and lanes. Their business would 
be destroyed, and hence they opposed the bill. The 
bill was passed in a modified form, whereby the road was 
curtailed at the south end, and stopped short at 
Burslem. This was, no doubt, something gained, but 
it was not enough ; and through communication must 
be established in some way between the north and 
south. It was not until the Grand Trunk Canal was 
projected in the promotion of which Wedgwood took 
a leading part that he was able to carry out his 
intentions to the fullest extent. But the descrip- 
tion of this great enterprise is reserved to a succeeding 



WEDGWOOD continued to improve his useful ware 
with his usual insight and perseverance. His most 
important manufacture was his cream ware, which 
was greatly in demand. He improved its body, its 
glaze, and its form, and was indefatigable in his 
efforts to obtain the best specimens of eastern and 
continental ware, as models for imitation, as well as 
to improve their form and ornamentation. 

It is hardly to be wondered at that he paid the 
penalty of most original minds, and that his products 
were imitated by Boulton of Soho and by other workers 
in metal. They were sought for with eagerness by the 
porcelain manufacturers on the continent, and were 
even sent to China as patterns for the potters there. 
Wedgwood did not approve of this exportation ; he 
was of opinion that if the oriental porcelain was 
made in forms better suited for European tables, it 
would materially injure the sale of English earthen- 
ware in home as well as foreign markets. 


Improvement of Ware 55 

About this time Wedgwood adapted that curious 
machine, the Engine lathe, for the improvement of 
pottery. Before his time the potter's lathe was very 
primitive in its construction ; it was merely used for 
paring down any inequalities of surface. Wedgwood's 
attention was first drawn to the engine lathe by 
Plumier's L'Art ch Tourner ; he had the book translated 
for him. The machine had hitherto been employed for 
turning in wood, ivory, and metal. The possessor of 
one in London refused to admit Wedgwood for a few 
minutes where one of them was at work, without pay- 
ment of five guineas. 

This, however, was not sufficient. Wedgwood had the 
good fortune to meet with the celebrated Mr. Taylor of 
Birmingham, who had made the lathe instrumental in 
greatly improving various branches of metallic manufac- 
tures. Wedgwood and he had many conferences together, 
and the Burslem potter profited greatly by Taylor's 
mastery in practical detail. The latter undertook to 
make a machine turning lathe for Wedgwood, who 
was so ardent in the business that he would not quit 
the place until he had got the machine finished ; and 
he brought it home with him, together with a person 
instructed in the manner of using it. This was in the 
year 1763. Under Wedgwood's hands this machine be- 
came a most important tool. His first application of it 
was to the red porcelain, which, being of a close texture 
and without glaze, was well suited to receive and 
retain a sharpness in the work. He afterwards applied 

56 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

it to decorate the vases which he made in Queen's 

In the same year (1763) Wedgwood invented a 
species of earthenware for the table, of a fine and dur- 
able body, covered with a rich and brilliant glaze, and 
able to bear sudden vicissitudes of heat and cold with- 
out injury. As it was manufactured with ease and 
expedition, it was sold cheap, and as it possessed, with 
the novelty of its appearance, every requisite quality 
for the purposes intended, it came quickly into general 
estimation and use. To this manufacture the Queen 
was pleased to give her name and patronage, command- 
ing it to be called " Queen's Ware," and honouring the 
inventor by appointing him Her Majesty's potter. 
The ware is composed of the whitest clays from Dorset, 
Devon, Cornwall, and other places, mixed with a due 
proportion of ground flint. The pieces are fired twice, 
and the glaze is applied after the first firing, in the 
same manner as on porcelain. The glaze is a vitreous 
composition of flint and other white earthy bodies, with 
an addition of white lead for the flux, analogous to 
common flint glass ; so that when prepared in per- 
fection, the vase may be considered as covered over 
with real flint glass. " The compound," says the author 
of the Art of Pottery, " being mixed with water to a 
proper consistence, the pieces after the first firing are 
separately dipped in it. Being somewhat bibulous they 
drink in a quantity of mere water ; and the powder 
which was united with that portion of the water 

vi Improvement of Ware 57 

remains adherent, uniformly all over their surface, so 
as to become, by the second firing, a coat of perfect 

In order to supply the increasing demand for his 
wares, Wedgwood opened an office in London, and 
appointed his elder brother John to conduct the 
business. He had also an agent in Liverpool, to whom 
the flints and clay from Dorset and Devon were con- 
signed, and who also superintended the export of 
Wedgwood's manufactured ware to foreign countries, 
especially to North America, where he found a rapidly- 
increasing market. Wedgwood had occasionally to 
visit Liverpool in order to see his agent, and inspect 
the import and export of his goods. 

While at Liverpool on one occasion, he became 
aware of a device recently invented there, by which the 
decoration of his cream ware might be greatly im- 
proved. The history of this accidental invention may 
be thus briefly stated. Mr. John Sadler had com- 
menced business as a printer at Liverpool in 1743, and 
it is said that the first idea of applying the art of print- 
ing to the manufacture of pottery occurred to him when 
seeing some children sticking waste prints upon their 
dolls' houses. He adopted the same method, fired some 
pottery and found the prints burnt into the ware. 
The application of 'this discovery led to a partnership 
between Sadler and Green, and they took steps for 
taking out a patent. 

It is not known at what date they became acquainted 

58 Josiah Wedgzvood CHAP. 

with Wedgwood, but it is certain that they were in 
active business communication with him in 1761-2. 
The system pursued was, that Wedgwood forwarded by 
carrier to the partner's print works at Liverpool a large 
quantity of his cream-coloured pottery, which they 
bought from him out and out ; and they subsequently 
resold it to him after they had decorated the ware with 
their transfer designs. This complicated mode of pro- 
cedure could not go on for long, and at length Wedg- 
wood bought the right of making the transfers about 
the year 1763. 

One of Sadler's letters to Wedgwood, dated 27th 
March 1763, shows that he possessed some knowledge 
of his art. " We have now," he said, " which you have 
not seen, a fine landscape, a new Queen, a Mason's 
Arms, with Pitt and Granby engraved on paper for 
quarto. ... A landscape, for instance, has the fore- 
ground very strong, buildings and distance a little 
lighter." After Wedgwood was able to transfer the 
engravings to his ware, his name found its way into 
some of the political lampoons and squibs which the wits 
of the day threw off unmercifully at the leading members 
of the government. One of them, alluding to spittoons 
and other vessels bearing the head of William Pitt, 1 is 
to be found in the " Asylum for Fugitive Pieces," got 
together by John Almon, where an irregular ode, said 

1 This must have been in 1763 when Pitt was virtually Prime 
Minister, and before he was created Earl of Chatham. Thurlow was 
then in opposition, but was afterwards appointed Lord High Chancellor 
in 1778. 

vi Improvement of Ware 59 

to be by Edward Lord Thurlow, afterwards Lord High 
Chancellor of Great Britain, is contained : 

" Lo ! Wedgwood, too, waves his Pitt-pots on high ! 
Exposing the points where the bottoms, yet dry, 
The visage immaculate bear ! 

Let Wedgwood be d d, and his ware. 

"I am told that a scoundrel of a potter, one Mr. 
Wedgwood, is making 10,000 spitting-pots, and other 
vile utensils, with a figure of Mr. Pitt in the bottom. 
Bound the head is to be a motto 

We will spit 
On Mr. Pitt. 

And other such d d rhymes suited to the uses of the 

different vessels." 

In the midst of all these occupations and growing 
responsibilities, Wedgwood was incessantly tormented 
by the old and incurable ailment in his knee, which 
had never left him since his attack of smallpox. 
Though a most active man, he was always distressed 
when moving about. A skilful surgeon was called 
in, and applied some sedative poultices ; but the relief 
given proved only temporary. 

At length Wedgwood, notwithstanding the pain which 
it caused him, felt that he must make one of his journeys 
to Liverpool. He set out on horseback, but while passing 
through one of the narrow lanes his knee was crushed 
while trying to avoid one of the wheels of a cart com- 

60 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

ing from the opposite direction. He nevertheless rode 
on to Liverpool, but when he arrived there, although 
scarcely able to stand, he somehow contrived, with help, 
to stumble up to his bedroom. Inflammation set in, 
and threatened a prolonged illness. A surgeon was 
sent for, and after giving him some relief, and reducing 
the inflammation, ordered him to remain in bed. This 
enforced inactivity was a sore trial to one who anxiously 
desired to be at Burslem looking after his various works 
and workmen. 

Dr. Turner, who attended Wedgwood, was himself a 
man of accomplishments. Besides being a good surgeon, 
he was an excellent chemist, a classical scholar, and a 
man of artistic taste. His interest in his patient led 
him, when he had sufficiently recovered, to bring to his 
room and introduce to him many of his own personal 
friends. Among those who were thus introduced to 
Wedgwood, was a gentleman of much intelligence, an 
excellent conversationist, and of a most agreeable 
manner. This was Thomas Bentley, then a Liverpool 
agent and merchant, who had travelled on the con- 
tinent, and knew many foreign languages, especially 
French and Italian. On his return to England he 
settled at Liverpool, and married Hannah Gates, but 
she died within two years, and her elder sister managed 
Bentley's household. Eventually he took Mr. James 
Boardman as a partner into his firm. Wedgwood was 
attracted by him from the first. Their acquaintance 
ripened into friendship, then into brotherly affection. 

vi Friendship with Bent ley 61 

Wedgwood envied Bentley's remarkable powers his 
knowledge, his intellect, and his artistic attainments. 

Bentley visited Wedgwood as long as he remained 
at the Dale Street Inn in Liverpool. He cheered him 
up, and endeavoured to console him for his temporary 
loss of liberty. They used the pipe of peace and 
smoked together. They talked about science, religion, 
politics, pottery, the improvement of the roads and 
canals, and, indeed, upon all manner of subjects. 
Even poetry was not neglected. Bentley was a great 
admirer of Thomson's poems, and infected Wedgwood 
with his love of nature, and especially with his poem 
on " Liberty." Bentley was himself of a literary turn, 
and had contributed articles to the Gentleman's Magazine 
and the Monthly Review. He had written out an essay 
on "Female Education," still in manuscript, part of 
which he read aloud to the infinite satisfaction of his 
friend the master potter. 

So soon as Wedgwood could move about with the 
help of his crutches, Bentley introduced him to some of 
his more intimate friends, to the Heywoods, always a 
potent name in Liverpool, to Dr. Priestley, then residing 
at Warrington, to Dr. Aikin and his accomplished and 
beautiful daughter Laetitia, afterwards Mrs. Barbauld, 
to the Seddons, the Percivals, and the Eyes, with other 
notabilities of Liverpool. 

In due course Wedgwood was able to travel; he 
returned to Burslem in a chaise, the roads being now 
sufficiently improved to allow him to travel by that 

62 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

means of conveyance. Then his correspondence with 
Bentley began, and it lasted as long as Beutley lived. 
The two unbosomed themselves to each other. Their 
hearts beat in unison. Every thought that passed 
through their minds was set down in writing, and duly 
communicated by post. Their friendship and affection 
grew rapidly. Every sorrow and joy, every difficulty 
and success, were imparted to each other with manly 

The first letter that Wedgwood wrote to Bentley on 
his arrival at Burslem was the following (15th May 
1762) : "There is not a day that passes but I reflect 
with a pleasing gratitude upon the many kind offices 
I received in my confinement in your hospitable town. 
My good doctor, and you in particular, have my warmest 
gratitude for the share you both had in promoting my 
recovery, and I know he is too well acquainted with 
the influence of a good flow of spirits upon the whole 
animal economy to refuse you your share of merit in 
this instance." 

Amongst other things that occurred during Wedg- 
wood's stay in Liverpool was the appointment of 
Bentley as Wedgwood's agent, to superintend the arrival 
of the potter's material for conveyance to Burslem, and 
the export of his wares to foreign countries. Hence the 
letters between them are full of instruction and advice 
as to the business in hand. Every letter was full 
of gratitude and hearty friendship. As we shall after- 
wards see from their correspondence, this intercourse 

vi Friendship with Bent ley 63 

was honourable to both ; and perhaps there is nothing- 
finer in commercial communications than the warm and 
cordial intercourse between these two memorable men. 

Wedgwood was very busy after his return to Burslem. 
There were long arrears of correspondence to overtake ; 
there were still many orders to execute, and in their 
fulfilment Wedgwood's presence was quite indispensable. 
There were the experiments on various clays to con- 
tinue with a view to further improvement, and there 
was all manner of chemical analyses to pursue in order 
to test the knowledge he had acquired at Liverpool. 
He could not leave Burslem even for a day. To his 
friend Bentley he wrote : " I am tied down to this 
rugged potmaking spot of earth, and cannot leave at 
present without suffering for it." 

Wedgwood took no important step without con- 
sulting Bentley, who on his side was always ready to 
reply to him with confidence and zeal. He many times 
visited Burslem, and Wedgwood returned his visits to 
Liverpool. At length he insisted on Bentley becoming 
his partner. On removing his works from Burslem, 
Wedgwood built a house for Bentley's accommodation. 
But Bentley never occupied it, as his services were 
found to be more valuable in London, the most im- 
portant centre of Wedgwood's business arrangements. 



WEDGWOOD had arrived at the age of thirty-four before 
he united himself to a woman who was well worthy of 
his noble character. Yet he had long loved her. The 
lady was Sarah Wedgwood, daughter of Eichard Wedg- 
wood, who had settled at Spen Green in Cheshire, and 
made a considerable fortune as a cheese-factor. Eichard 
had two children, a son and a daughter. The son died 
early, and the daughter became his heiress. 

The families were remotely connected. Eichard 
occasionally visited Burslem, taking his daughter on a 
pillion behind him after the old fashion. His purpose 
on those occasions was to see his brothers, the sons of 
Aaron Wedgwood of the Big House. Thus the ac- 
quaintance of Josiah and Sarah began, and grew until 
it became a true love affair. 

The young lady had received an excellent education. 
She was agreeable, cheerful, handsome, and beautiful. 
No wonder that Josiah was attracted by her, not only by 
her personal appearance, but by her keen and accurate 

CHAP, vir Wedgwood's Marriage 65 

judgment, and her propriety in word, thought, and 
deed. She was one of those happily - constituted 
women who can rise to superior fortune, as well as adorn 
the ordinary domestic life to which she had been born. 
She was still her father's housekeeper, looking after his 
comfort, and filling up her spare time with the spinning- 
wheel, which she used with skill. 

Wedgwood was now in a prosperous condition, and 
the father of the young lady had no objections to his 
engagement with his daughter. They corresponded 
with each other, and Wedgwood occasionally visited 
her on his way to and from Liverpool. Their court- 
ship, however, was weary work, and Wedgwood longed 
eagerly for the day when he could bring his "dear 
Sally " to the home he had prepared for her. 

The father was very particular as to the terms and 
conditions of his daughter's marriage. Wedgwood wrote 
to Bentley as follows on the 9th of January 1764 : 
" My dear Friend I would have acknowledged the 
receipt of your very kind letter before now, but hoped 
by waiting a post or two to be able either to let 
you know of my happiness, or at least of the time 
when I expected to be made so ; but oh, grief of griefs, 
that pleasure is still denied me, and I cannot bear to 
keep my friend in suspense any longer, though I own 
myself somewhat ashamed and greatly mortified to be 
still kept at bay from those exalted pleasures you have 
often told me of and I am very willing to believe 
which attend the married state. 


66 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

" If you know my temper and sentiments on these 
affairs, you will be sensible how I am mortified when I 
tell you I have gone through a long series of bargain- 
making, of settlements, reversions, provisions, and so on. 
' Gone through it,' did I say ? Would to Hymen that I 
had. No ! I am still in the attorney's hands, from which 
I hope it is no harm to pray, ' Good Lord, deliver me ! ' 
Miss W. and I are perfectly agreed, and would settle 
the whole affair in three lines and in as many minutes ; 
but our papa, over-careful of his daughter's interest, 
would by some demands which I cannot comply with 
go near to separate us if we were not better determined. 
On Friday next, Mr. W. and I are to meet in great 
form, with each of us our attorney, which I hope will 
prove conclusive. You shall then hear further from 
your obliged and very affectionate friend, JOSIAH 

Again he wrote to the same correspondent, 23rd 
January 1764: "All matters being amicably settled 
between my pappa (elect) and myself, I yesterday pre- 
vailed upon my dear girl to name the day, the blissful 
day, when she will reward all my faithful services. . . . 
In three words, we are to be married on Wednesday 
next. On that auspicious day think it no sin to wash 
your philosophic evening pipe with a glass or two 
extraordinary, to hail your friend and wish him good 
speed into the realms of matrimony. Adieu, my 
good friend! I am very busy to-day, in order that 
no business may intrude on my pleasures for the rest 

vii Wedgwood's Marriage 67 

of the week. Can you write two letters of congratula- 
tion on one joyful occasion ? " 

The long-awaited marriage took place at the parish 
church of Astbury, in the county of Chester, on the 
29th of January 1764. Four months later Wedgwood 
wrote to Bentley : " Accept the best respects of 
two married lovers, who are as happy as this world 
can make them." The marriage indeed proved a 
very happy one. Sarah Wedgwood was one of the 
tenderest and best of wives. She was a woman of 
whom any husband might well be proud. She was 
beautiful and gentle, and the two loved each other with 
depth and fidelity. Her mind unfolded itself leaf by 
leaf in the society of her husband, always displaying 
new sweetness. 

She was not only tender but helpful. The rectitude 
of her mind was intuitive. Though gentle, she was 
active and strong. While Wedgwood was ill, as he 
often was through the pain in his diseased knee, she 
was his devoted nurse. None other cherished and 
helped him in his anguish as she did ; and this con- 
tinued until the amputation of his leg some four years 
after their marriage. 

During Wedgwood's occasional illnesses, she learnt 
his system of cipher or shorthand, took down notes of 
his thoughts and ideas, and conducted his correspond- 
ence. What a noble wife she was ! Her time was too 
useful now to be occupied in spinning, and her 
spinning-wheel was banished to the garret. Other 

68 JosiaJi Wedgwood CHAP. 

domestic and maternal duties occupied her attention 

In January 1765, Mrs. Wedgwood became the mother 
of a girl-baby. Writing to her brother Tom in London, 
who was ill of a cold, but was earnestly invited to come 
down to Staffordshire with his wife for the benefit of 
his health, Wedgwood said : " We have now got a pretty 
employment for you. Sukey is a fine sprightly lass, 
and will bear a good deal of dandling. You can sing 
'lullaby-baby' whilst I rock the cradle. But I shall 
hardly find time for nursing, as we have another Turn- 
pike broken out amongst us here, betwixt Leek and New- 
castle, and they have vi et armis mounted me upon my 
hobby-horse again, and a prancing rogue he is at present." 

Wedgwood was at this time one of the busiest men 
in the kingdom. He was especially active in the pro- 
motion and construction of turnpike roads, so as to open 
up the pottery district to the world at large. Besides 
the road between Leek and Newcastle, there were others 
between Uttoxeter and Burslem, and Buxton and Bake- 
well, towards the construction of which Wedgwood 
offered to subscribe. He was also busily engaged with 
a still more important subject, the arrangements pre- 
paratory to the survey and construction of the Grand 
Trunk Canal. He had numerous conferences with Lord 
Gower the chairman, and Mr. Brindley the engineer of 
the canal. After the scheme was launched and sub- 
scriptions were required, Wedgwood was appointed 


Wedgwood's Marriage 69 

Meanwhile the duties of his own business were in- 
creasing, and he was very much occupied with the engine 
lathe, so as to adapt it to the improvement of the 
pottery manufacture. He had, as we have said, ob- 
tained a copy of Plumier's work entitled E Art de 
Tourner. He could understand the diagrams, but it 
was also necessary to understand the words which 
described them. He accordingly wrote to his friend 
Bentley, 28th May 1764, as follows : 

" I have sent you a sample of our hobby-horse 
(engine-turning), which, if Miss Gates ( Bentley 's sister) 
will make use of, she will do me honour. This branch 
hath cost me a great deal of time and thought, and will 
cost me more. I am afraid some of my best friends 
will hardly escape. I have got an excellent book on 
the subject in French and Latin. I have enclosed one 
chapter which, if you can get translated for me, it will 
oblige me much, and I will pay any expense attending it." 

On another occasion, when Wedgwood was engaged 
in superintending the construction of his new works on 
the property he had purchased, he wrote to Bentley : 
" I scarcely know, without a good deal of recollection, 
whether I am a landed gentleman, an engineer, or a 
potter ; for indeed, I am all three, and many other 
characters by turns. Pray heaven I may settle to some- 
thing in earnest at last." 

His principal business, of course, was a potter. He 
was constantly engaged in making experiments on clay 
and the materials of glaze, for the purpose of holding 

7O Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

his ground and improving his manufacture. To his 
brother John in London he wrote : " I have just begun 
a course of experiments for a white body and glaze, 
which promiseth well. Sally is my chief help in this 
as well as other things, and that she may not be 
hurried by having too many irons in the fire, I have 
ordered the spinning-wheel into the lumber room. . . . 
I do not intend to make this ware at Burslem, and am 
therefore looking out for an agreeable and convenient 
situation elsewhere." 

On 2nd March 1765 Wedgwood took the oppor- 
tunity of informing Sir William Meredith, who had 
sent him some elegant Vases to imitate, with many 
other specimens of ancient pottery, of his operations. 
The bulk of the manufactures at Burslem w r as ex- 
ported to foreign markets ; for the home consumption 
was very trifling in comparison to that which was sent 
abroad. The principal markets were on the continent 
and in North America. To the continent he sent an 
amazing quantity of ordinary white stoneware, as well 
as some of the finer kinds. He was afraid that the 
trade to the colonies would soon be lost, as potworks 
were already being established there. 

" They have at this time," said Wedgwood to Mere- 
dith, "an agent amongst us hiring a number of our 
hands for establishing new potworks in South Carolina, 
having got one of our insolvent master potters to con- 
duct them. They have every material there equal, if 
not superior, to our own, for carrying on the manufac- 

vii Wedgwood's Marriage 71 

ture. Therefore we cannot help apprehending the 
untoward consequences to our own home commerce." 
Wedgwood continued to make many improvements 
in his manufactures. In 1766 he introduced the black 
ware ; the jasper and cane ware ; and was making 
experiments upon mortars for chemists and druggists, 
in which he eventually succeeded, and did a very ex- 
tensive business in that material. 



IN the course of Wedgwood's business connected with 
the construction of the Grand Trunk Canal, he had 
frequent opportunities of meeting the Duke of Bridge- 
water, the proprietor of the Bridgewater Canal between 
Manchester and Liverpool. On the 6th of July 1765, 
he wrote to John Wedgwood, then his London agent, 
as follows : 

" I have been waiting upon his Grace the Duke of 
Bridgewater with plans respecting inland navigation. 
Mr. Sparrow went along with me. We were most 
graciously received ; we spent about eight hours in his 
Grace's company, and had all the assurances of his 
concurrence in our designs that we could wish. His 
Grace gave me an order for the completest set of table 
service of cream-colour that I could make. 'He showed 
us a Roman urn, 1500 years old at least, made of red 
china, which had been found by his workmen in Castle 
Field, near Manchester. After his Grace had dismissed 
us, we had the honour and pleasure of sailing on his 

CHAP, vin Wedgwood appointed Queens Potter 73 

gondola some nine miles along his canal, through a most 
delightful vale, to Manchester. The next day we waited 
upon the Cheshire gentlemen at a meeting of the Com- 
missioners for the Weaver Navigation at Northwick. 
They also promised to use their interest in favour of 
our design, provided we fell into their navigation." 

Thus Wedgwood was fully occupied, not only with 
executing his orders for cream ware, but with his exer- 
tions to open up the navigation of the country by means 
of the Grand Trunk Canal. At the same time the 
manufacture of pottery occupied the greatest share of 
his attention, inasmuch as it was by that occupation 
that he lived and flourished, and employed so large a 
number of working people in his neighbourhood. 

It was a matter of great satisfaction to him to be 
employed to make the completest service of cream- 
colour ware for the Duke of Bridgewater ; but his prin- 
cipal object was to be employed by the highest people 
in England their Majesties the King and Queen, and 
the Eoyal Family. George III. succeeded to the British 
throne in 1760, and in the following year he married 
the Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. 

Their Majesties were great friends of British manu- 
factures, and anxiously desired to patronise its principal 
promoters. It is not improbable that the Queen was 
first induced to order a cream service from Wedgwood 
through the instrumentality of the Honourable Deborah 
Chetwynd, one of her Majesty's maids of honour. She 
was a Staffordshire lady, daughter of the Master of the 

74 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

Mint, W. E. Chetwynd, afterwards Viscount Chetwynd. 
Miss Chetwynd was proud of the rising fame of her 
countryman Wedgwood. She knew of his intimate 
connection with Lord Gower of Trentham, the Duke of 
Bridgewater, the Egertons, the De Greys, and other 
noblemen ; and being herself a lady of taste and judg- 
ment, she took the opportunity of recommending Wedg- 
wood's ware to the patronage of the Queen. 

The first royal order that Wedgwood received came 
through Miss Deborah Chetwynd. It was a complete 
tea service in cream ware, decorated with green and 
gold. Wedgwood wrote to his brother in London, re- 
questing him to wait upon Miss Chetwynd and obtain 
her further instructions as to the manufacture and 
decoration of the service. 

" I am much obliged to you," he said (6th July 1765), 
" for your good offices with Miss Chetwynd. You may 
be sure my best endeavours will not be wanting to 
make the articles she orders as complete and elegant as 
possible ; but suppose we fail in burning the gold on, 
must we in that case stove it on, and make the ware 
green withinside ? Must the saucers and other articles 
be gilt any further on the outside than from the top edge 
to the foot ? 

" I shall be very proud of the honour of sending a 
box of patterns to the Queen, amongst which I intend 
sending two sets of vases, cream-coloured, engine-turned 
and printed, for which purpose nothing could be more 
suitable than some copper plates I have by me. I can 

viii Wedgwood appointed Queen s Potter 75 

adapt the vases so that the designs will appear to 
be made for each other and intended for royalty, nor 
must you trust to the contrary. But I am one group 
or design short, which I have sketched out and enclose, 
and desire you get it done by Wale, unless you know 
a better hand." 

Wedgwood was most careful in his execution of this 
first royal order. He himself superintended the whole 
proceeding, the burning in of the gold and the illumina- 
tion of the borders with flowers. In his early years, 
while passing across the moors to school at Newcastle, 
he had observed with delight the wild flowers which 
grew upon the waste ground, and vividly remembered 
them. As in the case of many a successful man his early 
intimacy with nature developed his talent for keen 
observation, and the faculty which he had cultivated 
from the beginning of his life for taking pains in all 
that he did, became his strongest discipline, and 
eventually led to his remarkable conquest over all his 
difficulties and misfortunes. 

He had indeed many troubles at this time. One of 
the greatest was the incompetence of his workmen. " I 
am just teased out of my life," he wrote to his brother in 
London, " with dilatory, drunken, idle, worthless work- 
men ; they prevent my proceeding with the tea service, 
to which more sorts of workmen are necessary than 
one would imagine." The uncertain element of fire 
was, as has already been stated, a serious obstacle. 
This is one of the enemies which the potter has to en- 

76 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

counter and overcome. It' not helped by the assiduity 
of his workmen, he is put to constant anxiety and ex- 
pense. Sometimes the labour of a month is destroyed 
in an hour. The kiln has to be pulled down, and 
another erected in its stead. That, too, may be found 
imperfect, and has to be altered at a considerable loss. 

Yet Wedgwood's troubles were to a considerable 
extent alleviated by his many encouragements. " I 
have just had the honour," he said (7th August 1765), 
" of a visit from the Duke of Marlborough, Lord Gower, 
Lord Spencer, and others, over my works. They 
seemed much interested and pleased, and wonder that 
I have not a warehouse in London where patterns of 
all the sorts I make may be seen." Indeed Wedg- 
wood's works were an institution in the county; and 
men of the highest rank were proud of his industry and 

The Queen was greatly pleased with the breakfast 
service when presented to her. She was so much 
gratified with this tribute of an infant art that she at 
once expressed a wish to have a complete table service 
of the same material. Wedgwood submitted patterns 
of the several pieces of ware, which were amended and 
finally approved. It was her unsolicited desire that 
the service should bear the name of " The Queen's 
Ware," and that the manufacturer should be appointed 
" Potter to Her Majesty." 

Under this powerful patronage, the ware found its 
way at once to the tables of persons of rank and 

viii Wedgwood appointed Qiteens Potter 7 7 

influence, and came rapidly into general estimation 
and use. Indeed, it was of a quality so far superior 
to everything which had before been made in this 
kingdom, and at the same time so moderate in price, 
that it could not fail to be favourably received. The 
other potters, availing themselves of his successful 
invention, with the advantage of being exempt from 
the anxieties and expenses which it had cost the 
inventor, soon set up works of the same kind, and 
Queen's ware became the staple pottery of England. 

On the Queen's service being finished and delivered, 
the King gave Wedgwood his immediate patronage by 
ordering a similar service for himself, but without 
bands or ribs : this was called " The Eoyal Pattern." 
Their Majesties' patronage, by drawing public atten- 
tion to the Staffordshire potters, opened up a source 
of wealth to many thousands of people, and extended 
commerce to a marvellous extent, not only at home 
but abroad. The tide of fortune which had thus 
set in was greatly increased by Wedgwood's sub- 
sequent inventions, and he emerged from his small 
manufactory at Burslem to the colony which he after- 
wards established at Etruria, a few miles distant. 

The forms of the vessels in use were greatly im- 
proved by Wedgwood. Other manufacturers followed 
his example ; they adopted his models, for he took out 
no patent (with only one exception, of no special 
importance), and all his efforts and inventions virtually 
became the property of his competitors. His forms 

78 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

were copied by the manufacturers in his neighbour- 
hood, both by silversmiths, bronze-makers, and other 
workers in metal. Boulton of Birmingham admired 
Wedgwood's vases so much that he almost wished to 
be a potter ; but, as we have said, he was satisfied 
with mounting in metal the vases which Wedgwood 
had made. "The mounting of vases," said Boulton, 
" is a large field for fancy, in which I shall indulge, as 
I perceive it possible to convert even a very ugly 
vessel into a beautiful vase." 

The engine lathe, although no patent had been taken 
out for its application to the manufacture of pottery, 
became in the hands of Wedgwood an ever-increasing 
power. It was soon applied to the decoration of vases 
made in the green ware after the antique, and also to 
carry out the designs of several ingenious ladies and 
gentlemen who furnished him with proper models, both 
original and Etruscan. 

But Wedgwood left every potter free to imitate his 
designs. As he himself said, a patent would have 
greatly limited its public utility. Instead of one 
hundred manufacturers, there would only have been 
one; and instead of exporting to all quarters of the 
world, a few pretty things would have been made for 
the amusement of the people of fashion in England. 

In the last century, Burslem and some other villages 
in Staffordshire were famous for their milk-pans and 
butter-pots. About a hundred people were then occu- 
pied in their production ; while now there are about ten 


Wedgwood appointed Queens Potter 79 

thousand workmen employed in manufacturing useful 
and ornamental wares, and besides the home consump- 
tion, an annual export takes place to the amount of 
nearly 200,000. This surely is greatly to the credit 
of the industry and enterprise of Staffordshire. 

Wedgwood eventually did what Lord Gower and his 
other friends had so strongly advised him to do : he 
opened a warehouse in London for the exhibition of his 
Queen's ware, Etruscan vases, arid other useful and 
artistic works. He had before a small storehouse in 
Cateaton Street for shop and exported goods ; but in 
August 1765, he hired an establishment in Newport 
Street, which he afterwards removed to Greek Street 
for larger accommodation ; and there his brother John 
exhibited his works to numerous admiring visitors. In 
fact, his showrooms were as much crowded as exhibi- 
tions of the Eoyal Academy. 

Wedgwood also hired works at Chelsea, where he 
employed enamellers, modellers, and artists. He was 
under the necessity of frequently visiting London, to 
superintend their important operations. His mind 
was thus constantly occupied, what with his own 
special responsibilities at Burslem, his efforts to im- 
prove the roads and canals through Staffordshire, and 
his endeavours to advance the manufacture of vases 
and earthenware. When asked whether he had read the 
review of Mr. Priestley's work, he answered : " Indeed 
the truth is, I have scarcely read anything at all, or 
thought of anything at all, but potmaking and navigat- 

8o Josiak Wedgwood CHAP. 

ing; and when it will be otherwise with me, I really 
cannot tell." 

It was one of Wedgwood's great objects to revive 
the classical works of the Greeks. He imitated the fine 
vases which he found in the Montfaucon and other 
collections, and in the best works of his own time. 
He was under the impression that the improvement of 
pottery, while exciting the public attention to these 
beautiful works, would contribute to lay the foundation 
of a school of modelling and artistic manufacture. 
At the same time, notwithstanding all that he had 
done to improve this branch of industry, he used to 
declare, even in his later days, that he considered 
pottery as still but in its infancy. He was enabled to 
carry his designs into effect, to a certain extent, by the 
liberal and patriotic disposition of their Majesties ; by 
the nobility, and others, who opened their cabinets, and 
permitted him to take copies of the finest pieces they 
had purchased in the course of their travels. 

About the year 1766, he first produced the unglazed 
black porcelain, to which he gave the name of Basaltes 
from its possessing the properties of that stone; a 
variegated terra-cotta ; a white wax-like porcelain, and 
other inventions, adapted to different purposes. In 
ancient times the Etruscans painted their vases with 
durable colours, which were burnt in by fire. Even in 
the time of Pliny these vases, so prepared, were re- 
garded as one of the lost arts of preceding ages. 
Wedgwood, by his experimental skill and his extreme 

vin Wedgwood appointed Qiieens Potter 81 

perseverance, revived this lost art. The colours he 
burnt in were fully as beautiful as the originals, and 
susceptible of greater variety. These revivals, in the 
newly-invented materials, soon caught the public eye 
and occasioned a rapid demand for Wedgwood's pro- 
ductions, as well as for those of the manufacturers who 
so eagerly followed his example. 

Wedgwood was at Newport Street, London, at the 
end of 1765 ; he then wrote to Bentley, still at Liver- 
pool, on the subject of his occupations : " An epidemical 
madness," he said, " reigns for Vases, which must be 
gratified. I have five or six modellers and carvers at 
work upon different branches, and a moulder constantly 
in my house. I have seen the Italian vases, and like 
them vastly ; have also seen some better prints of vases 
than any I have, particularly for Bas-reliefs, and a 
friend has promised to lend them to me." 

And again, in February 1766 : "Let all the hands 
that can be spared and can work at Vases be employed 
on them .... that the great demand for them here 
may not be baulked. I could sell 50 or 100 worth 
per day if I had them." 

At this time Wedgwood was patronised by some 
of the principal artistic members of the aristocracy 
by Lord Rockingham, Lord March, the Duke of 
Northumberland, the Duke of Montagu, Sir Thomas 
Gascoigne, and others, and was honoured with an 
extraordinary commission from Catherine, Empress of 
Russia. He was directed to make a very large service 

82 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

of Queen's ware for Her Majesty's use, and to paint in 
black enamel, upon every piece, a different view of the 
palaces, seats of the nobility, and other remarkable 
places in the British kingdom. The idea was worthy 
of the mind of a sovereign, but the undertaking seemed 
a great one for the powers of a private manufacturer. 
The number of views necessary for avoiding repetition 
of the same subjects, was about twelve hundred, and a 
considerable proportion of them must necessarily be 
original drawings. Some three years were spent in 
making the collection of drawings, and painting them 
on the ware, which was done with correctness of design, 
so that each piece was a good picture. 

On the 14th of February 1766, Wedgwood wrote to 
Her Majesty's representative in London : "We shall send 
you the Eussian table and dessert service faster than you 
can get them enamelled. I can promise with certainty, 
that no part of it can wait for us, if you'll be so good 
as to push Mr. Coward with his carving." Wedgwood 
was greatly indebted to Lord Cathcart, the British 
Ambassador to Eussia, for his kindly help, and most 
probably his recommendation to the Eussian Empress. 
The preparation of her table service occupied about 
eight years, principally on account of the large variety 
of different patterns that had to be enamelled; but 
at length it was exhibited in London in 1774. The 
service was shortly after presented to the Empress, 
and received by her with entire satisfaction. It is 
supposed that Her Majesty paid for Wedgwood's work 

viii Wedgwood appointed Queen s Potter 83 

as much as 3000. But it consisted of 952 pieces, 
and had involved an immense amount of labour. When 
exhibited at the rooms in Greek Street, it was one of 
the most popular sights in London. The money that 
Wedgwood received for the service scarcely paid its 
expenses ; but it acted as a splendid advertisement 
throughout Britain, and indeed throughout Europe, 
and its appearance largely increased the demand for 
Wedgwood's manufactures. 



THE great demand for the Queen's ware and the other 
productions of Josiah Wedgwood led to a large 
increase in the population of Burslem. Houses could 
scarcely be built soon enough for the accommodation 
of the people. The demand for Vases also brought 
a considerable number of artists and superior workmen 
into the neighbourhood ; and not only was the dwelling 
accommodation insufficient, but the factories also be- 
came overcrowded. The numerous hands could scarcely 
find room enough for the proper elaboration of their 

It was therefore necessary that Wedgwood should 
make some arrangements for their proper accommoda- 
tion. He did not like to leave his native town. He 
endeavoured in the first place to ascertain whether he 
could not purchase and enlarge the manufactories in 
which he carried on his operations, and erect new dwell- 
ings for his work-people. Having by this time accumu- 
lated some savings, as well as increased his means by 

CHAP, ix Founding of Etruria 85 

the fortune of his wife, he made a proposal to Thomas 
and John Wedgwood to purchase the Ivy House and 
the Big House, which belonged to them, for the purpose 
of extending his works. But they declined his applica- 
tion, and he was obliged to look elsewhere for the 
necessary site. He still continued, however, to carry on 
his manufactory at the Brick House works, which had 
for some time been in his possession as tenant. 

Having been foiled in his endeavours to confine his 
pottery works to Burslem, he made inquiries for an 
estate on which to erect improved buildings, as well as 
dwellings for himself and family, and for his work- 
people and their families. He had no desire to remove 
his buildings far from Burslem, for he took a great 
interest in the well-being of the population. Being 
greatly attached to the cause of education, he subscribed 
liberally to a public school, and he never ceased to 
devote himself to the opening up of the turnpike roads 
and canals of Staffordshire. 

At length he fixed his mind upon a suitable 
estate about two miles from Burslem, nearly in the 
centre of the potteries. It lay near the course of the 
Grand Trunk Canal, then in course of survey ; so that 
a branch might easily be constructed to bring the pro- 
posed new works into communication with the canal. 
The place was originally called the "Bidgehouse 
Estate." It was in the possession of a life tenant, and 
the reversion was with a gentleman then in Ireland. 
With his usual prompt decision, Wedgwood deter- 

86 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

mined immediately to put himself into communication 
with this gentleman, though entirely unknown to him. 
He despatched a confidential professional friend to 
Ireland, who found out the reversionary proprietor, 
and satisfactorily completed the purchase. The rent 
was changed into an annuity for the life of the tenant, 
and thus immediate possession of the estate was 

The land had little to recommend it besides the 
convenience of its situation. It was naturally an un- 
productive clayey soil, and was thought to be of little 
other value than furnishing clay for the use of the 
potters. But the spirit and enterprise of Wedgwood 
soon altered the appearance of the estate. He pro- 
ceeded to build a large manufactory on the banks of 
the proposed canal ; he laid out the grounds with great 
taste, assisted by Capability Brown ; and contiguous to 
the works, he raised a new village for the accommoda- 
tion of the workmen and their families. 

What was the place to be called ? With the pro- 
spects he entertained, his skill and taste in endeavouring 
to infuse art into the manufactures of his country, and 
his intense admiration of the vases of antiquity, he 
determined to call the estate and its buildings Etruria, 
after the beautiful works of the famous Etruscans. In 
the course of a few years, this formerly barren estate 
was converted into a garden of beauty, and the manu- 
factories built thereon became the source of works 
of art which did so much for the improvement of 

ix Founding of Etruria 87 

public taste, as well as for the extension of British 

We have already referred to the accident on the 
road to Liverpool, which first led to Wedgwood's 
acquaintance with Dr. Turner, and through him, with 
Bentley, and have related how the friendship thus 
formed rapidly led to an almost brotherly intimacy. 
When Wedgwood purchased the Eidgehouse estate, 
he urgently requested Bentley to come over to Burslem 
and confer with him and his wife as to the laying out 
of the property. 

"My Sally," wrote Wedgwood, 15th September 
1766, "says your fat sides require a good deal of 
shaking, and she would recommend a journey on horse- 
back, not in the coach, to Burslem. She is half angry 
with me for coming home without you ; but your last 
letter hath brought her into a little better temper, as 
she expects not only the pleasure of seeing you here in 
a little time, but likewise a jaunt to Liverpool in con- 
sequence of your visit. Besides, she will not fix upon a 
spot for either house or gardens, nor even the stables, 
'till you have viewed and given your opinion of the 
premises ; so now, my dear sir, you are invited to the 
Kidgehouse estate in the quality of a Capability Brown." 

The invitation was accepted, but Bentley did not 
" shake his fat sides " by riding on horseback, but by 
using the machine, or coach. He inspected the estate, 
and the site of his probable dwelling. It had been 
arranged towards the close of the year that Bentley 

88 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

was to become a partner with Wedgwood in a certain 
portion of his manufactures. The arrangement up to 
this time had been of considerable advantage to Bentley 
in his business at Liverpool. Instead of being a general 
agent, he now confined himself to earthenware only. 
He superintended the import of clay from Dorsetshire, 
Cornwall, and Devonshire, and the export of Wedg- 
wood's goods to America and other countries. The 
arrangement between the two was an equal division of 
the profits on the earthenware exports. Bentley took 
a partner James Boardman, and his firm was after- 
wards known as that of Bentley and Boardman. 

The partnership between Wedgwood and Bentley 
took place shortly after Wedgwood's letter to Bentley 
(November 1766), which was very encouraging. He 
proposed to build a house for Bentley at Etruria ; but 
he said that it would be twelve months at least before 
the works could be built. He also mentioned the orna- 
mental works that Bentley would have to superintend 
vases of many sorts, toilet furniture, elegant tea- 
chests, snuff and other boxes. " If all these good things 
should fail us," wrote Wedgwood, " I hope your good 
genius will direct us in the choice of others." 

Wedgwood still carried on assiduously his experi- 
ments on the raw materials of pottery. It will readily 
be understood that a thorough knowledge of the many 
kinds of earth upon the surface of the world, comprises 
in its highest sense the power of the potter over his 
clay. It is truly the groundwork of his art. Such 

ix Partnership with Bent ley 89 

knowledge is an education in itself the knowledge of 
clays, how they will bend, and how they will burn. 

Let us look at a few of the records concerning these 
years, and see what kind of attention Wedgwood gave 
to this branch of his work. He possessed himself, at 
no small expense, of such different earths, stones, and 
clays in this island, as were then known ; and also 
of those that could be procured from foreign countries. 
Upon these specimens he experimented, analysing to 
the best of his power their chemical constituents, and 
testing by practical experiment how far they might be 
made serviceable to his needs. 

The results of his experiments were duly registered 
and set out in cabinets, so that they could be referred 
to and taken up for use at any time. It may be added 
that the specimens left at his death amounted to more 
than seven thousand, arranged in classes and subdivisions 
according to the purposes they were capable of answer- 
ing, or the views with which they were made. His 
note-books give one a fair notion of his enterprise in 
this direction. They contain long extracts from both 
English and Continental authors on mineralogy. Books 
of travel were ransacked to observe what the authors 
related as to the various kinds of earth in the lands 
they had visited ; and they also contain copious ex- 
tracts from English topographical works. So much for 
Wedgwood's enterprise and industry in regard to earths 
and clays. 

In one of his letters to Bentley, with whom he 

90 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP, ix 

became more and more familiar in his communications, lie 
said : "The fox-hunter does not enjoy more pleasure from 
the chase, than I do from the prosecution of my experi- 
ments when I am fairly entered into the field ; and the 
further I go, the wider this field extends before me." 
And in the same letter he says : " I have not been on 
horseback for a week. This morning some business 
calls me from my books and vases and trumpery ; and 
I am very thankful for it, for I have scarcely power of 
my own mere motion to quit my present pursuits for a 
few hours." 



WE have had frequent occasion to allude to the roads, 
or the absence of roads, which in those days existed in 
central England, to the inconvenience and restriction 
which difficulty of communication imposed upon trade 
and manufacture, and to the eager interest which 
Wedgwood took in the subject, not from personal 
motives alone, but for the public good. 

In his early years the roads of Staffordshire were 
no better than those of England generally. In some 
respects they were worse. In Dr. Plot's time, "the 
poor cratemen carried the wares on their backs all 
over the country." The people were as rough as 
the roads. When Charles Wesley visited South 
Staffordshire in 1743, he records his visit to Walsall 
as follows : " The street was full of fierce Ephesian 
beasts (the principal men setting them on), who 
roared and shouted, and threw stones incessantly. 
At the conclusion, a stream of ruffians was suffered 
to beat me down from the steps. I rose, and having 

92 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

given the blessing, was beat down again, and so a 
third time." 

We have already related how his elder brother 
John Wesley was received at Burslem a few years 
later ; how he was pelted with mud, and had no one to 
protect him ; and how, at Congleton, he was even worse 
received than at Burslem. All this, as Wesley admitted, 
was the result of intense ignorance. There had been 
no schools for the rising generation, and consequently 
no education. The Midland Counties were for the most 
part uncivilised, and still in the Dark Ages. 

There was no other cure for it than by opening up 
the district by better roads to the influences of civilisa- 
tion. There were no roads as yet. They were merely 
lanes or trackways marked by upright stones. Arthur 
Young, on his tour in the North of England in 1768, 
describes them as " most execrable " and " infernal." 
He could not help swearing as he passed along them, 
or round them. The lanes were scarcely sufficient 
for the slumpering along of pack-horses, let alone for 
carts or carriages. The people of Burslem were often 
short of coal in consequence of the badness of the ways. 
The poor horses, though urged by lashing, could not 
drag themselves or their carts through the deep mud. 
They often fell, upset their loads of coal or crates of 
earthenware, frequently broke a leg, and had to be shot 
on the spot. 

The inland situation of Burslem, with its few pottery 
villages, was thus exceedingly inconvenient. While 

x Roads and Canals through Staffordshire 93 

the potters employed only the clays in their own 
neighbourhood, and their trade was of but small extent, 
their situation was tolerable ; but when the trade 
increased, and they began to draw their heavy raw 
materials clays, flint stones, and porcelain earth from 
remote parts of the kingdom, and to send back their 
bulky manufactured goods in great quantities, the 
expenses of the conveyance and reconveyance, together 
with the carriage of coal, became a heavy import tax, 
and tended to retard the consumption of stoneware in 
most parts of the kingdom. 

To redress this great inconvenience, Wedgwood en- 
deavoured to get some of the worst parts of the roads 
improved, and placed in connection with the adjoining 
turnpike roads. A public meeting was held for the 
purpose, but the proposal was strongly resisted. When 
it was proposed to improve the chief road from Liver- 
pool to the potteries, the inhabitants of Newcastle- 
under-Lyme bitterly opposed it. The innkeepers 
believed that the new road would take the drinking 
and other traffic away from their town. 

When Wedgwood first proposed, at a public meeting 
at Burslem, to make four miles of road from that village 
towards Liverpool, he could not carry his resolution. 
Yet the road or lane, in its then state, was so bad that 
the common carriers used to make the distance double 
by making a wide circuit so as to get round the muddy 
holes and ruts, and avoid miscarriages and upsets during 
their journey. The old and stupid objection was brought 

94 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

up by the opponents : " Why, the road has served us 
and our fathers for many generations, and it will con- 
tinue to serve us still." 

But Wedgwood had the sterling gift of perseverance. 
He continued to urge the necessity of opening up the 
country by means of new communications. He possessed 
a clear and forcible manner of expressing his thoughts, 
and slowly and by degrees he produced conviction in 
others, until at length he carried his point, and bene- 
fited those who had been most persistently opposed to 
him. He was aided also by men of rank and character, 
who espoused his cause ; and in the course of a few 
years, an Act of Parliament was obtained to make a 
turnpike road, though only to a limited extent, and also 
to improve the paving of the pottery villages. In 
course of time, as the advantage of the new roads began 
to be ascertained, other turnpikes were successfully 
established wherever they were found to be necessary. 

The inland situation of Burslem and the pottery 
villages was more and more felt as the trade of the 
country increased. The great ports most commodious 
for Burslem were Liverpool, Bristol, and Hull. Liver- 
pool was the nearest. Goods for that port had a land 
carriage of eighteen miles to the nearest part of the 
river Mersey. Goods for Bristol were carried by land 
to Bridgnorth, about forty miles ; and to Willington on 
the Trent, where the navigation to Hull began, about 
the same distance. It soon became clear to the obser- 
vant and comprehensive mind of Wedgwood, how 

x Roads and Canals through Staffordshire 95 

infinitely convenient it would be to have an inland 
navigation established to bring Burslem and the pottery 
villages in connection with the nearest port of Liver- 

The idea of such a navigation had long been mooted ; 
but it was not until the Duke of Bridgewater had con- 
structed and opened his canal between Worsley and 
Manchester in July 1761, that active measures began 
to be adopted to set on foot the proposed new naviga- 
tion through the potteries. Wedgwood was the leading 
spirit, together with his friend Brindley the engineer. 

Wedgwood had known Brindley for some time. He 
had known him as a millwright, mechanic, mirie- 
drainer,and tunnel-maker; indeed, Brindley was so ready 
to undertake any kind of work, that he was generally 
known as " The Schemer." Among his various con- 
structions was that of a mill near Burslem for the 
purpose of grinding flint so much used by the potters 
for the manufacture of white ware. He had been 
informed of the distressing consequences to the work- 
men of inhaling the fine particles of dry flint ; so that, 
in constructing the flint mill for John Wedgwood at 
the Jenkins's, he suggested that the flints should be 
ground in water. This was done, and the result was 
that waste was prevented, the operation of grinding was 
facilitated, and the purity of the air was preserved to 
the advantage of the work-people. 

Brindley was thus brought into direct connection with 
the Wedgwoods of Burslem ; and when the contemplated 

96 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

inland navigation through the potteries was proposed, 
it was natural that James Biindley and Josiah Wedg- 
wood should be brought into close communication. 
The manner in which Brindley had conquered the 
difficulties of the Duke's Canal, and successfully accom- 
plished the erection of his " Castle in the Air " that is, 
the crossing of the Irwell by the Barton Viaduct led 
to his being proposed as the only possible engineer for 
the new Staffordshire Canal. 1 

The opening of a water communication through the 
potteries had long been the subject of discussion, and a 
survey was made by Brindley in 1760 at the expense 
of Earl Gower and Lord Anson ; but many years elapsed 
before anything practical was attempted. The first 
public movement in support of Brindley's survey 
occurred in December 1765, when an open-air meeting 
was held at Wolseley Bridge. Earl Gower, Lord Lieu- 
tenant of the county, occupied the chair ; and Lord Gray, 
and Mr. Bagot, Mr. Anson, Mr. Gilbert, Mr. Wedgwood, 
and many more, were present. Brindley submitted his 
plans. They were fully discussed and finally adopted ; 
and it was resolved that a bill should be applied for in 
the next session of Parliament, to obtain powers to 
construct a canal from the Mersey to the Trent. Wedg- 
wood, with his usual generosity, subscribed 1000 to- 
wards the preliminary expenses, and also promised to 
subscribe largely for shares in the undertaking. 

3 The full account of Brindley is given in Lives of the Engineers, 
vol. i. 

x Roads and Canals through Staffordshire 97 

The principal promoters of the measure proposed to 
designate the work as " The Canal from the Trent to 
the Mersey," but Brindley, with sagacious foresight, 
urged that it should be called "The Grand Trunk 
Canal," because, in his judgment, numerous other 
canals would eventually branch out from it at various 
points of its course, just as the arteries of the human 
system branch out from the aorta. Brindley's views 
were adopted, and before many years had passed, his 
anticipations were fully realised. 

The Staffordshire potters were greatly delighted with 
the decision of the public meeting, and on the following 
evening they assembled round a large bonfire at Burs- 
lem, where they wished every prosperity to the Grand 
Trunk Canal, and drank the health of Earl Gower, Mr. 
Wedgwood, Mr. Gilbert, and the other promoters of the 
scheme, with fervent demonstrations of joy. 

Of course the proposal to make a canal through 
the potteries was bitterly opposed. Brindley's Grand 
Trunk line was intended to join the Duke of Bridge - 
water's canal at Preston- on- the-Hill, not far from Eun- 
corn. As the Duke was desirous of placing his naviga- 
tion in connection with the Cheshire Wiches and the 
Staffordshire Potteries, and already had been at the 
expense of making a preliminary survey, he at once 
threw the whole weight of his support on the side of 
Brindley's Grand Trunk Canal. 

The owners of the Eiver Weaver Navigation Company 
were the principal opponents of the measure. They 


98 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

held that the new scheme would place a monopoly of 
the Cheshire and Staffordshire traffic in the hands of 
the Duke ; though they concealed the fact that their 
opposition to the Grand Trunk would continue their 
own monopoly in the hands of the Eiver Weaver Canal 
Company, whose navigation, so far as it went, was 
tedious, irregular, and expensive. Both parties mus- 
tered their forces for a Parliamentary struggle. Wedg- 
wood, with his usual enthusiasm, entered the lists as a 
pamphleteer, and in conjunction with Bentley of 
Liverpool, afterwards his partner, published an able 
statement, showing the advantages likely to be derived 
from the construction of the proposed new canal. This 
pamphlet was circulated by thousands. 1 

In the course of his correspondence with Bentley, 
Wedgwood wrote to him from London about certain 
corrections and alterations which he had made in the 
pamphlet: "Must the uniting of seas and distant 
countries depend upon the choice of a phrase or mono- 
syllable ? Away with such hypercriticisms ! Let the 
press go on. A pamphlet we must have, or our design 
may be defeated. So, make the best of the present ; 
and correct, refine^ and sublimate if you please, in the 
next edition." 

The opponents of the measure also held their meet- 
ings and published their pamphlets. Brindley's plan 

1 "A View of the Advantages of Inland Navigation, with a plan of 
a Navigable Canal intended for a communication between the ports of 
Liverpool and Hull." 

x Roads and Canals through Staffordshire 99 

was, on the whole, considered the best. The Grand 
Trunk would pass through important districts, greatly 
in need of improved communication with the port of 
Liverpool on the one hand, and with Hull on the other. 
The principal difficulty was in getting over or through 
the summit at Harecastle. It was alleged by the oppo- 
nents of the measure that the long tunnel at that point, 
or the immense series of locks, was a mere " chimerical 
idea," and could never be carried into effect. Brindley, 
however, insisted that if the necessary powers were 
granted, he would certainly drive the tunnel through 
the hill. His idea was to make as long stretches of flat 
canal as possible ; just as George Stephenson afterwards, 
before the powers of the locomotive had been fully 
developed, preferred to go round a hill rather than 
surmount it or tunnel under it. Brindley avoided 
rivers as much as possible. He likened water in a 
river to a furious giant running down and overturning 
everything ; whereas, " if you lay the giant flat upon 
his back, he lost all his force, and became completely 
passive, whatever his size might be." 

It is quite unnecessary to describe the Parliamentary 
contest on the Grand Trunk bill. Wedgwood, in spite 
of his many important avocations his purchase of 
Etruria, his business in Liverpool and London, and 
the management of his works at Burslem often 
went to London to give his evidence in support of the 
measure; and most of the landed gentlemen of his 
neighbourhood appeared on the same side. 

ioo Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

At length, after prolonged opposition, the Grand 
Trunk bill was passed ; first through the Commons ; 
then through the Lords ; and on the 14th of May 1766, 
it received the royal assent, and became an Act of Parlia- 
ment. About the same time another important Act was 
passed empowering the construction of the Wolver- 
hampton Canal from the river Trent near Haywood 
Mill and the river Severn near Bewdley ; thus uniting 
the navigation of the three rivers which had their 
termini at the ports of Liverpool, Hull, and Bristol, on 
the opposite sides of the island. 

Of course there were great rejoicings at Burslem on 
the triumph of Brindley, Wedgwood, and their friends. 
Shortly after the passing of the Act, on the 26th of July 
1766, a general holiday was held at Burslem and the 
neighbouring pottery villages. The first sod of the 
new canal was dug by Josiah Wedgwood on the 
declivity of Brownhills. It was placed in a barrow 
close at hand, and, Wedgwood being lame, it was 
wheeled away by Brindley amidst deafening cheers. A 
barrel of old Staffordshire ale was broached, and the 
healths of Earl Gower, Lord Anson, Lord Gray, and 
others, were drunk ; and Mr. Wedgwood was thanked, in 
the name of the assembled potters, for his indefatigable 
services in the cause. Lunches and dinners followed. 
Mrs. Wedgwood entertained many guests. In the after- 
noon a sheep was roasted whole for the benefit of the 
poorer potters. After sunset bonfires were lighted in 
various parts of Burslem. A feu de joie was fired in 

x Roads and Canals through Staffordshire ibi 

front of Wedgwood's house, and sundry other demon- 
strations of rejoicing wound up the day's proceedings. 

At a meeting of the proprietors of the canal, Mr. 
Wedgwood was unanimously appointed treasurer of the 
undertaking. This was a great honour. It proved the 
estimation in which he was held by those who knew 
him best, and the faith reposed in his spotless integrity. 
At a future meeting of the company, the salaries of the 
officers were fixed : 200 per annum was the salary 
of James Brindley, the surveyor-general of the under- 
taking, very different indeed from the salaries paid to 
engineers nowadays. The committee ordered 150 
guineas to be paid to Wedgwood, and 90 to Bentley, 
besides a balance which remained in his hands, for the 
printing, publishing, and distribution of the pamphlets 
in support of the undertaking. 

Wedgwood had the greatest possible admiration for 
Brindley. He wrote to Bentley in March 1767 : "I am 
afraid Brindley is endeavouring to do too much, and 
that he will leave us before his vast designs are 
accomplished. He is so incessantly harassed on every 
side, that he hath no rest for either mind or body, and 
will not be prevailed upon to take proper care of his 

And again, in March 1768, he wrote to Bentley : 
"Mr. Brindley and his lady called here on their 
way home. They spent the day with us and have 
just left this morning. We, my wife and myself, are 
to spend to-morrow with Mr. and Mrs. Brindley at 

IO2 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

Newchapel; and as I always edify full as much in 
that man's company as at church, I promise myself to 
be much wiser the day following. It is an old adage 
that a man is either a fool or a physician at fifty, and 
considering the opportunities I have had with the 
Brindleys and Bentleys of the age, if I am not a very 
wise mortal before that time, I must be a veritable 
blockhead in grain." 

In answer to a letter of Bentley's on Projectors in 
March 1767, Wedgwood replied : " I most cordially 
join in your benevolent sentiments respecting Pro- 
jectors, but do not allow either of your exceptions, for I 
think Mr. Brindley THE GREAT. The fortunate, money- 
getting Brindley may be an object of pity and a real 
sufferer for the benefit of the 'public. He may get a 
few thousands, but what does he give in exchange ? 
His Health, and I fear his Life too, unless he grows 
wiser, and takes the advice of his friends before it is 
too late. 1 

"The other Projector (Wedgwood himself) you are 
pleased to compliment with an exception, is very 
sensible of how much he owes to your partiality, but he 
is in no danger of making a Plunk, or what would be 
esteemed a Fortune by any other than a little Country 
Manufacturer ; and as to his projections those at least 
that are sacred to Mammon he would rather not hear 
them named seriously. Do you think, my friend, that 

1 Wedgwood was right. Brindley died of Diabetes at the com- 
paratively early age of fifty-six. 

x Roads and Canals through Staffordshire 103 

the outline of a jug (even a Bolingbroke) or the fine 
turn of a teapot are synonymous with the creating of a 
canal or the building of a city ? No, no ! my friend ; 
let us speak softly, or rather be silent, on such 
fribling performances. Your friend shall endeavour to 
please the ladies for the good of his family and friends, 
but he must not be vain of such trifles or mistake them 
for great actions." 

The committee, at one of their first meetings of the 
Canal Company, ordered that the works should at once 
be proceeded with at both ends of the Harecastle Tunnel 
and also at Wilden Ferry. But many years passed 
before the Harecastle Tunnel was finished. Brindley 
died at the age of fifty-six, and the works were con- 
tinued and finished by his brother-in-law, Henshall. 
Harecastle Tunnel was not opened until 1777 that is, 
it had been no less than eleven years in construction. 

At the same time it must be said that the Grand 
Trunk Canal was the most formidable undertaking that 
had up to that time been constructed in England. Its 
whole length, including the junctions with the Birming- 
ham Canal and the Eiver Severn, was 139J miles. 
Wedgwood stuck closely to the canal during its long 
progress. None knew better than he the difficulties 
occasioned to the commerce of Staffordshire by the 
defective communications by road and canal to the ports 
of Liverpool and Hull ; and none rejoiced more strongly 
than he did on the final completion of the works. 

He had by this time bought and built Etruria, and 

iO4 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP, x 

brought a branch of the canal to an adjoining platform 
for the accommodation of the boats and the transport of 
his goods. He had removed his manufactory thither 
from Burslem, partially in 1769, and wholly in 1771, 
before the construction of the canal had been com- 

And now we must follow his career into an entirely 
new branch of his undertaking. 



MR. WEDGWOOD, having now firmly established the 
manufacture of Queen's Ware, and vigorously assisted 
in the organisation of the Grand Trunk Canal, felt it 
necessary to attend to his own special business. He 
was still anxious to devote himself to the study of 
chemistry as applied to clays and mineral substances, 
with a view to the production of a higher class of goods. 
His cousin Thomas, who had been foreman in his 
manufactory, attended to his London business, and 
became a partner in the sale of his useful class of 

Josiah Wedgwood proceeded with great industry in 
the study of chemistry. In course of time he produced 
a number of different kinds of ware unknown before, 
and which soon gained for him a lasting and honourable 
fame. The Queen's Ware was greatly improved, and 
eventually caused an immense demand, not only in 
England, but throughout the Continent. This ware was 
composed of the whitest clays from Devonshire, Dorset- 

io6 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

shire, and Cornwall. It was mixed with a due propor- 
tion of ground flint. The pieces were fired twice, and 
the glaze was applied after the first firing, in the same 
manner as on porcelain. The glaze was a vitreous 
composition of flint and other white earthy bodies, with 
an addition of white lead for the flux analogous to 
common flint glass; so that, when prepared in per- 
fection, the ware might be considered as coated over 
with real flint glass. 

The entirely new pieces of earthenware and porcelain 
which Wedgwood produced, as the result of his chemical 
investigations, were the following : 

1. A Terra-Cotta, resembling porphyry, Egyptian 
pebble, and other beautiful stones of the silicious or 
crystalline order. 

2. Basaltcs or Egyptian, a black porcelain biscuit of 
nearly the same properties with the natural stone. It 
bears without injury a strong fire, stronger indeed than 
the basalt itself. 

3. White Porcelain Biscuit, of a smooth, wax-like 
surface, of the same properties as the preceding, except 
in what depends upon colour. 

4. Jasper, a white porcelain biscuit, of exquisite 
beauty and delicacy, possessing the general properties 
of the preceding, together with the singular one of 
receiving through the whole substance, from the admix- 
ture of metallic calces with the other ingredients, the 
same colours which those calces communicate to glasses 
or enamels in fusion, a property which no other porce- 

xi Improvement of Models Chemistry 107 

lain or earthenware body, of ancient or modern times, 
has been found to possess. This renders it peculiarly 
fit for cameos, portraits, and all subjects in bas-relief, as 
the ground may be of any peculiar colour, while the 
raised figures are of a pure white. 

5. Bamboo, a cane-coloured biscuit porcelain, of the 
same nature as No. 3. 

6. A Porcelain Biscuit, remarkable for its great hard- 
ness, little inferior to that of Agate. This property, 
together with its resistance to the strongest acids and 
corrosives and its impenetrability by every known 
liquid, adapts it for the mortars of druggists and 
chemists, and many different kinds of chemical vessels. 

These six distinct kinds of manufactures, together 
with the Queen's Ware already mentioned, were de- 
veloped by the ingenuity and industry of the different 
manufacturers into an infinity of forms, both for orna- 
ment and use, variously painted and embellished. 
These constitute nearly the whole of the fine earthen- 
ware and porcelains which have by this time become 
the source of a very extensive trade, and which, con- 
sidered as an object of national art, industry, and 
commerce, may be ranked as amongst the most im- 
portant manufactures of the kingdom. 

When Wedgwood finally entered into his partnership 
with Bentley, it was intended that the latter should fix 
his abode at Etruria for purposes of convenience, and 
the erection of a house was begun for him after a design 
of his own, but before it was finished it was judged best 

io8 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

that he should reside in London, and take charge of the 
warehouse which Wedgwood had found it necessary to 
establish there a few years before. A house was then 
taken for Bentley at Chelsea, near the Chelsea China 
Works, where Wedgwood established works of his own, 
which his new partner superintended. 

The Queen's Potter was probably the first person in 
this country who conceived the design, already hinted 
at, of leading the public mind to the contemplation of 
the arts of antiquity, and of diffusing and perpetuating 
their glorious works by multiplying copies of them, just 
as literature has been diffused by the printing-press. 
The correct taste and the accuracy of discrimination 
which Wedgwood had already shown, and which had 
been improved by his study of the ancient Greek works, 
and the extreme perseverance of his chemical researches, 
which enabled him to discover the black basaltes, the 
variegated terra -cotta, the white, wax -like porcelain, 
and other substances, and the purpose to which he 
applied them, soon caught the public eye, and occasioned 
a rapid demand for his productions in the artistic line. 
Though many scientific potters may have since excelled 
Wedgwood, having his formulas to direct and guide 
them, he alone must be considered as the pioneer of 
artistic pottery in England. 

He was enabled to carry his designs into effect by 
the liberal and patriotic disposition of the nobility and 
gentry, who opened their cabinets to his uses, and per- 
mitted him to make copies of the fine pieces of work 

xi Improvement of Models Chemistry 109 

which they had purchased in the course of their travels 
in foreign countries. " I have been three days hard and 
close at work," Wedgwood wrote to Bentley in October 
1765, "taking patterns from a set of French China at 
the Duke of Bedford's, worth at least 1500 the 
most elegant things I have ever seen and I am this 
evening to wait and be waited on by designers and 

The artists of various kinds whom Wedgwood 
employed were very numerous. Whenever he found a 
young man with artistic taste, he took him up, and 
helped him forward. He even founded a school for the 
instruction of young men and women in drawing, 
painting, and modelling. 

Coward seems to have been one of the earliest artists 
employed by Wedgwood. In November 1765, we find 
him writing to his brother in London, to send to Burslem 
Coward's carvings of "Ich Dien" for the Queen's 
Service ; " Satyr's head " and " Laurel festoons " for 
Lady Holland ; and " Swan's head " and handles for 
Lord Eockingham's vase. Ornaments of various kinds 
were required from Coward for orders from Lord March, 
the Duke of Northumberland, Lord Coventry, the Duke 
of Montague, Sir T. Gascoigne, and others. It may be 
mentioned that Coward, in conjunction with Hoskins, 
modelled from the antique the Somnus or Sleeping Boy 
one of the finest and largest works ever executed for 
Wedgwood. Coward was found so useful, that while 
other artists were paid so much for executing a piece of 

1 1 o Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

work, Coward was permanently retained by Wedgwood 
at 200 per annum. 

John Bacon, afterwards the famous sculptor, was 
another of Wedgwood's principal artists at one period 
of his life. Bacon was originally a clothworker with 
his father, but showing a taste for drawing and design- 
ing, he determined to follow the bent of his genius. 
" Happiness," he said to himself when a youth, " is in 
every man's power who can learn to discipline his own 
mind " a bold but true thought and on this plan he 
made a philosophical attempt to secure his own happi- 

When about fourteen years of age Bacon apprenticed 
himself to one Crispe of Bow Churchyard, an eminent 
maker of porcelain. His master observed his talents as 
a designer, and thus Bacon was soon promoted by his 
employer. Bacon learnt under him not only drawing 
but modelling. He also painted figures on plates and 
dishes. At that early age, this helpful fellow princi- 
pally supported his parents by the produce of his labours. 

Bacon became fascinated by the pursuit of model- 
ling. His models were sent to the pottery furnace in 
Lambeth to be fired. With a hopeful and willing spirit, 
his work gradually improved. His ambition was stimu- 
lated, and he gave all his leisure hours to his new 
pursuit. He next proceeded to discipline his hand 
and eye in the severe school of sculpture. With such 
determination, he could not but succeed ; and, at the 
age of nineteen, he presented his first model in clay 

xi Improvement of Models Chemistry 111 

to the Society of Arts, for which he received a pre- 
mium of ten guineas. 

Bacon continued to labour in the pottery shop of 
Crispe for some years, gathering knowledge and ex- 
perience. One of his first successful efforts was a 
small figure of Peace, after the antique style. He 
modelled some eight works for the Society of Arts, for 
which he received premiums for one, a human figure 
as large as life, a premium of as much as fifty-two 
pounds ten shillings. 

He removed from Crispe's workshop, and became a 
successful labourer in Coade's Artificial Stone Manu- 
factory, in Lambeth, shortly after its establishment in 
1769. It must have been about this time, when he was 
looking out for a new employer, that Wedgwood became 
acquainted with him, and employed him on his new 
cameos and intaglios, which so greatly enhanced the 
reputation of his firm. 

It is unnecessary to follow the further career of John 
Bacon ; but it may be mentioned, that when the Eoyal 
Academy was instituted, Bacon was twenty-eight years 
old, and in the year 1769 he had the honour of receiving 
from the hands of Sir Joshua Eeynolds the first gold 
medal ever given for sculpture by the Eoyal Academy. 
The subject was ^Eneas bearing Anchises from the 
burning of Troy. After this, his reputation became 
distinguished ; and his works are still famous. His 
statue of Mars was copied in a reduced form by Wedg- 
wood, and still remains one of his finest intaglios. 

1 1 2 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

Bacon supplied Wedgwood with many other models 
amongst others, with Apollo and Daphne, and several 
important patterns of Yases and Candelabra. He 
enamelled for Wedgwood a reduced copy of the bas-relief 
for which he had gained the gold medal of the Eoyal 
Academy. This was beautifully executed in Jasper. 

One of Wedgwood's cleverest artists was James 
Tassie. Born at Glasgow, he was originally destined 
for the business of a stone-mason. Going to Dublin in 
search of employment, he was brought into connection 
with Dr. Quin, the physician, whose hobby was the 
imitation of gems in coloured glass or paste. Dr. Quin 
engaged Tassie, and by their united labours great 
improvements were effected in that art. Tassie was 
encouraged by his patron to proceed to London to 
follow this art as his profession, and although he had 
many difficulties to encounter, owing to his extreme 
diffidence, he eventually emerged from obscurity, and 
established such a reputation that the principal cabinets 
of Europe were thrown open to him. In 1767 he 
obtained a prize of ten guineas for his imitation of an 
ancient onyx. He modelled gems and cameos for 
Wedgwood, and his works were always admired for their 
brightness and beauty. One of his finest heads was 
that of James Watt in wax. The author possessed one 
of them, a wonderful piece of work for delicacy and 

John Voyez was an excellent carver and enameller. 
Wedgwood was at the expense of removing him and his 

xi Improvement of Models Chemistry 113 

wife from London to Burslem, and there he worked under 
his master's eye, executing some beautiful bas-reliefs. 
But Voyez's morals were not equal to his artistic work. 
Under the influence of drink, he committed some crime, 
for which the magistrates sentenced him to be whipped 
with a cat -o'- nine -tails, and imprisoned for three 
months. Yet the kind and forgiving Wedgwood, after his 
release, resolved to give him another chance. He again 
took him into his employment at the wage of two 
pounds a week. But badness must have been rooted 
in Voyez's nature. He was found betraying Wedg- 
wood's secrets to one of his competitors ; and eventually 
he fled from Burslem, involved in debt. 

It is not necessary to enumerate all the artists who 
worked for Wedgwood. Among them are found the names 
of Stothard, who in his early life furnished several 
beautiful designs ; Pingo, an Italian artist, who at an 
early period of Wedgwood's career modelled for him re- 
presentations of the battles of Plassey and Pondicherry. 
Webber and Hackwood were constantly employed. 
Hackwood was a splendid modeller of portraits, some of 
which are classical. The magnificent portrait of Newton, 
after Eoubilliac, is by him. Wedgwood called upon 
Eoubilliac's widow, and she presented him with her 
husband's sketches, many of which Wedgwood after- 
wards turned to account. 

Stringer, the painter of Knutsford, was employed by 
Wedgwood to take views of English country seats for 
the Eussian Service. Stringer also visited Burslem. 


ii4 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

He painted figures, and arranged sphinxes to support a 
beautiful column which Wedgwood had modelled. 
"Stringer," wrote Wedgwood to Bentley (Nov. 1767), " is 
now here ; he is good-natured, modest, and ingenious ; 
and as he has a ready hand at drawing, we can sketch 
out a vast number of pretty things, which may be laid 
by to mature, till we can bring them into use. A manu- 
facturer of ornamentals cannot have too great a store 
of that sort." 

Burdett, a Liverpool artist, drew dead game for 
Wedgwood; but he proved quarrelsome, and was 
discharged. Theodore Parker, Spilsbury, and Shaw, 
were amongst the decorative artists. Joseph Simon 
was an excellent London enameller, and was employed 
to decorate the Eussian Service. David Ehodes was, 
however, Wedgwood's principal enameller. Chitaqua, 
a Chinese modeller, took a likeness of Wedgwood, but 
it does not appear that he was afterwards employed by 
the firm. Wright, the Derby painter, assisted Wedgwood 
with his pictures and illustrations ; he suggested, and 
drew, or painted, " The Corinthian Maid," " Penelope un- 
ravelling her Web," " Ulysses and Young Telemachus," 
" The Lady in Comus," and other illustrations. 

Among Wedgwood's good enamellers were Denby 
of Derby, who worked both at Etruria and Chelsea ; 
and David Cooper of London, a flower - painter of 
considerable merit. Wilcox, from the Worcester 
porcelain works, together with his clever and in- 
genious wife, was employed at Etruria, and gave every 

xi Improvement of Models Chemistry 115 

satisfaction. They were afterwards removed to Chelsea, 
to take rank with the body of enamellers and decorators 
employed at Wedgwood and Bentley's manufactory. 

Sufficient workmen and workwomen could not be 
hired to supply the demand for Wedgwood's vases and 
enamelled work. Art does not come by nature. Men 
and women must be taught, and work hard before they 
can attain success; and many, many are the failures. 
We know of artists who have descended from landscape 
painting to the selling of butter and cheese. "We 
could not live by art," they said, " but we can make a 
living by this humbler occupation." Wedgwood could 
not find a Vase -maker, without careful training. 
" Nay," said he, " I could not get a hand through the 
whole Pottery to make a table-plate, without training 
him up for that purpose." 

Again, Wedgwood writes to his friend : " A waking 
notion haunts me very much of late, which is the 
beginning of a regular drawing and modelling school to 
train up artists for ourselves. I would pick up some 
likely boys of about twelve years old, and take them as 
apprentices until they are twenty or twenty-one, and 
when they had made some tolerable proficiency, they 
should practise with outlines of figures upon Vases 
which I should send you to be filled up. . . . When you 
wanted any hands, you could draft them out of this 

Mrs. Wilcox, a very good painter of flowers, as well 
as of figures, groups, and landscapes, was sent from 

1 1 6 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

Burslem to Newport Street in London when the show- 
rooms were opened there, and was one of the principal 
supports of Wedgwood's Art School in Chelsea. Mr. 
and Mrs. Wilcox travelled to London in 1769 by waggon, 
and were a week on the road. They were met at the 
" Coach and Horses " by some of the people from New- 
port Street, and were conveyed to their lodgings until 
accommodation could be provided for them at Chelsea. 
Mrs. Wilcox was a brave and valiant woman. She 
brought her pencils and brushes tied in a bundle, 
carefully preserved from the tread of the waggon folk. 
She brought her tools, but, still more important, she 
brought herself. Her husband always admitted that 
she was much greater than he himself was. She 
long worked for Wedgwood, and indeed died in his 

Among the women workers for Wedgwood, Mrs. Laridre 
stood pre-eminent. She modelled Tritons, Sea-nymphs, 
Sphinxes, Naiads, Bacchantes, and draped figures male 
and female. She also modelled Candelabra on a large 
scale. Miss Pars and Miss Glesson were also amongst 
those who were employed in the decoration of the 
Kussian Service. Wedgwood was much indebted to 
Mrs. Southwell, who visited his works at Etruria. 
"She knows," he wrote to his partners, "the Art of 
disposing the most beautiful productions of Nature in 
the most agreeable, picturesque, and striking manner." 
... He again adds, "Mrs. Southwell is a charming 
woman. I am more and more in love with her every 

xi Improvement of Models Chemistry 117 

time I see her, aud having such a Mistress in the 
science of flower-drawing, I hope that our future pro- 
ductions will show that I have profited accordingly." 

Wedgwood engaged the best artists, wherever he 
could find them. He sought them out amongst the 
London fan-painters, coach-painters, and fresco-painters. 
It did not matter whether they were men or women. 
Both were alike employed. One Croft struck out a 
scheme for employing faint white outlines on the Vases ; 
this was followed by Hutchins from Soho. The border 
lines were traced at Etruria, and the colours were 
afterwards laid on at Chelsea. Bakewell of Liverpool, 
and Ealph Unwin of Burslem, were employed on this 
work ; for there continued to be to use Wedgwood's 
words " an epidemical madness for Vases." 



IN narrating the life of Josiah Wedgwood frequent 
reference has been made to the attack of virulent small- 
pox from which he suffered, as a boy of eleven years 
old, in 1741, and to the legacy of incessant and fre- 
quently excruciating pain which it entailed on him. 
In addition to this, however, the disease left other 
sequelae in an impaired constitution, and partial blind- 
ness, as well as other ailments, from which he never 
completely recovered. 

It is necessary to bear in mind the terrible affliction 
thus caused to a nature so active and energetic as 
Josiah Wedgwood's. The enforced idleness of body 
could not subdue his indomitable perseverance, but 
only afforded the opportunity for that cultivation of 
mind which had been denied him in earlier years. The 
accident on his journey to Liverpool brought about his 
introduction to Dr. Turner, and through him his ac- 
quaintance with Bentley, and such men as Dr. Priestley, 
Dr. Aikin, the Heywoods, the Percivals, Mr. Wyke the 

CH. xii Amputation of Wedgwood's Right Leg 119 

clever watchmaker, and the Eev. William Willet, who 
afterwards married Catherine, Wedgwood's youngest 

His affliction, therefore, was not altogether without 
recompense, but it was an ever-present source of bodily 
pain and commercial hindrance. 

While in London on the navigation business, in 
November 1765, Wedgwood had a brief but alarming 
attack of illness which greatly prostrated him. His 
wife and cousin were happily near. They helped him 
to conduct the business he had come to London about ; 
and in a short time he was again at work, though far 
from convalescent. 

The bilious attacks to which he was liable returned 
in July 1767, and, as usual, depressed his spirits and 
greatly disheartened him. His friend Dr. Darwin recom- 
mended exercise ; and he rode on horseback from ten to 
twenty miles a day. A month later, his unfortunate knee 
again troubled him. He had intended to visit Bentley 
at Liverpool, but he felt quite unable to ride so far. He 
wrote to his friend : " I cannot do much longer without 
seeing you, but I am at present disabled for travelling 
far from home by a sprain of my bad knee, which will, 
T fear, confine me some time near home." 

It was so constantly with him. He was sometimes 
better, sometimes worse. At one time it was his liver, 
at another time it was his disabled knee. It seemed to 
be a case of metastasis, a change of the disease from one 
part of the body to another. He wrote to Cox of 

I2O Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

London, who was hiring new showrooms for him, 
saying that he had over-walked and over-worked his 
leg, and the result was intense pain. He again con- 
sulted Mr. Bent, the surgeon of Newcastle-under-Lyme, 
who tried embrocations externally and emetics internally. 
He thus described the results to Bentley : " The pain 
had no sooner left my knee than I was very ill in other 
respects; I suffered from great heat and difficulty 
of breathing, insomuch that I was glad to feel the 
pain again returning to the knee, and as the pain 
again returned into that part, the other symptoms 
left me." 

Though Wedgwood was now a comparatively 
thriving and prosperous man master of a large 
pottery establishment, treasurer of the Grand Trunk 
Canal, and interested in many public undertakings 
the disease in his knee was constantly returning. It 
was a constant source of pain and worry. It inter- 
fered with his sleep " kind Nature's sweet restorer, 
balmy sleep." It hindered his peace of mind. It 
prevented him attending to his business. He could 
not even conduct his correspondence. He began to 
contemplate the idea of getting rid of this terrible 

On the advice of his friend Dr. Darwin, he determined 
to consult a surgeon. Had conservative surgery ex- 
isted in those days, perhaps his limb might have 
been saved. But Wedgwood had to accommodate 
himself to the then condition of surgery. He was 

xii Amputation of Wedgwood's Right Leg 1 2 1 

now making up his mind to a capital cure, which 
might for ever rid him of his tormenting knee. It 
was no doubt a heroic remedy, and it might prove 
a dangerous one. It was no other than the am- 
putation of his right limb. He finally resolved 
upon the operation, and the amputation took place 
upon the 28th May 1768, about four years after his 

Mr. Bent, assisted by a local surgeon, performed the 
operation. The faithful Bentley came over from Liver- 
pool to support Wedgwood's courage. But, so far as 
that went, he had courage enough. There were no 
ansesthetics in those days, but he would not have the 
operation hidden from his view, but deliberately 
watched the surgeons. There were the tourniquet, the 
knife, the saw, the forceps, the ligatures, the sewing of 
the flaps, and the strapping. He was thus finally 
relieved from the knee which had tormented him so 
long; and during the operation, the brave Wedgwood 
never shrank nor uttered a murmur. Yet, for many 
years, the severed nerves continued to convey sensations 
to the brain or to the nervous system which had been 
affected, so that he continued to feel the remains of 
the pain in what he called his " no-leg." 

During Wedgwood's illness, his wife's conduct was 
admirable. Although she had to attend the sufferings 
of her dying boy, she never ceased to pay her loving 
attentions to her " dear Joss." She conducted his corre- 
spondence, and did everything she could, by her alacrity 

122 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

and cheerfulness, to keep his mind as free as possible 
from the cares and troubles of ordinary life. When the 
surgeons saw that the operation had been successful, 
they left the case to the care of his wife. She dressed 
the wound from day to day, until the patient was finally 

When Bentley found that Wedgwood was out of 
danger, he returned to Liverpool to execute his friend's 
orders. He and his partner Boardman were for some 
time exceedingly busy with despatching crates of 
earthenware to foreign ports. During Wedgwood's 
illness, many inquiries were made by distinguished 
persons after his welfare, by Lord Gower of Trentham, 
by the Duke of Bridgewater of Worsley, and by the 
Dukes of Bedford and Marlborough, Lords Cathcart and 
Bessborough, Sir William Meredith, Sir George Saville, 
and many others. Dr. Darwin was also a frequent 
visitor while Wedgwood was confined to his room. If 
good wishes could have cured him, he must soon have 
been happy upon his solitary leg. 

While Wedgwood lay in bed, after the amputation, 
Peter Swift, of the Burslem Works, wrote an invoice of 
cream ware to Cox in London, dated 28th May 1768, 
to which he appended this note : " Mr. Wedgwood has 
this day had his leg taken of (sic\ and is as well as can 
be expected after such an execution ! " 

Bentley's correspondence continued to be most loving 
and affectionate. It was one of Wedgwood's greatest 
pleasures to receive, read, and study his kind communica- 

xii Amputation of Wedgwood's Right Leg 123 

tions. In one of Wedgwood's replies, written about a 
month after the operation, he said : " My dear friend I 
have many, very many, most kind and affectionate 
letters from you to be thankful for, with a thousand 
other instances of your esteem ; but that is too cool a 
term to express the feelings of my heart. . . . You know, 
indeed, that I could not for a moment cease to love and 
be grateful to you, now I am recovered so far as to be 
able to write. I find myself over head and ears in debt 
as to replies to your communications, and every post is 
increasing the heavy load. It is this that confines me 
to the house, and retards my perfect recovery." 

"At present I am well, even beyond my most sanguine 
expectations. My leg is almost healed. The wound is 
not quite two inches by one and a half. I measured it 
with the compasses this morning when I dressed it. 
Yes ! when I dressed it ; for I have turned my surgeon 
adrift, and Sally and I are sole managers now. Only, 
we give him leave to peep at it now and then, when he 
lifts up his hands and eyes, and will scarcely believe 
that it is the wound he dressed before." 

Wedgwood continued to take his usual interest in the 
building of the works at Etruria, and showed his kind- 
ness to the workmen employed. On the 20th of June, 
less than a month after the operation, he wrote to 
Bentley : " I am pleased with your feeling so much for 
the poor mortar-maker, and I will endeavour to set his 
mind at rest. Mr. Pickford (the master builder) has 
much of the Bashaw in his treatment of workmen, and 

124 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

does not consider that they have any feelings at all. I 
have seen many instances of this, and may perhaps 
some time or other find a mode of conveying to him a 
lecture upon the proper treatment of our inferiors, and 
to prove that our ' humble friends,' as some one beauti- 
fully calls them, have like passions with ourselves, and 
are capable of feeling pain or pleasure in the same 
manner as their masters." 

After this amputation of his leg, Wedgwood had to 
walk with the aid of crutches, for cork legs had not 
been invented, and he had to wait for a proper firm 
leg until his next visit to London. Some months after 
the amputation, he wrote to Dr. Darwin : " My first 
wooden leg was made by Mr. Addison, lay-figure maker 
in Hanover Street, Longacre." But Wedgwood was so 
active and spirited a fellow that he required a constant 
succession of wooden legs. 

On the 14th of July 1768 he wrote to Bentley from 
Burslem : " My London modeller has come, and we are, 
sketching out some employment for him. I have acci- 
dentally met with another artist who is like enough to 
stick by me if you can send a good, sober, honest 
account of him. He is a mathematical instrument 
maker, a wooden leg maker, a caster of printer's types, 
and, in short, a jack of all trades. He has been at 
Liverpool about half a year, working with a mathe- 
matical instrument maker near the Change. He has 
also done some letters for Mr. Perry. His name is 
Brown, and he wears a wooden leg. At present he is 

xii Amputation of Wedgwood's Right Leg 125 

making me some wooden legs. As lie can forge iron, 
file extremely well, and cast in various metals, I shall 
employ him in making and repairing engine lathes, 
punched by tools of various sorts. If his character be 
good, he is just the very man I want." 

In writing to her agents in London, Mrs. Wedgwood 
says : " The peg leg is much wanted." In February 
1769, he writes that he cannot attend the Grand Trunk 
Canal meeting, because his leg was repairing ! He had 
an immense deal of trouble indeed with his pin leg ! 
In a letter to Mr. Steward, written by Wedgwood him- 
self at a later date, he regrets that he had met with a 
slight hurt, which rendered him unable to wear his 
artificial leg, and thereby confined himself at home; 
but he added : " I have now got well, and go abroad 
again, though I am not fond of doing so in frosty 
weather, being not so expert a footman as I have been, 
and a slip or accident to my better leg might lay me 
up for good and all." 

There was a great deal of trouble about the " spare 
leg." In a letter to his brother in London, Wedgwood 
said : " Send me by the next waggon a spare leg, which 
you will find, I believe, in the closet. ... I shall make 
a wretched walker in the dark with a wooden leg." At 
the same time there was a large demand for Vases, 
which Wedgwood did his best to supply. He went to 
London in February 1769, and superintended the opera- 
tions there for six weeks. After his return to Burslem, 
he wrote to Bentley at Liverpool, who had just re- 

126 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

turned from Newport Street, London, and said that 
there was " no getting to the door of the showroom for 
coaches nor into the rooms for ladies. Vases are still 
the cry." We add another part of Wedgwood's letter : 
" Be so good as let us know what is going forward in 
the great world ; how many Lords and Dukes visit your 
rooms, praise your beauties, thin your shelves, and fill 
your purses ; and if you will take the trouble to ac- 
quaint us with the daily ravages in your stores, we will 
endeavour to replenish them." 

But still worse than Wedgwood's pin leg were the 
attacks of blindness, with which he was threatened 
towards the end of 1769. He had an inflammation in his 
eyes, which partly blinded him. Spectra and atoms 
shut out the light. " My eyes," he wrote to Bentley in 
December, "continue the same. It is just dark, and I 
am absolutely forbidden to write or read by candle-light. 
Clouds and atoms are before me. I fear, indeed, about 
my brain becoming affected. I intend to go to London 
for advice. I am advised to have a perpetual seton 
placed behind my neck." 

To save his eyes, Mrs. Wedgwood, his faithful wife, 
wrote a long letter to Bentley : " The complaint in Mr. 
Wedgwood's eyes," she begins, " which he mentioned to 
you in London, is growing worse. He has consulted 
Mr. Bent, who advises him to use them as little as 
possible, and not to write by candle-light at all, for 
which reason he knows you will excuse him for not 
writing. Mr. Bent has ordered him to take some pukes 

xii Amputation of Wedgwood's Right Leg 127 

(emetics). He has already taken one, and thinks he is 
something better, and is to take another to-night." 
Then she goes into business matters, which occupy 
several pages quarto. 

It was a great privation for Wedgwood to be debarred 
from reading, as he desired to use his confinement 
for the opportunity of repairing the deficiencies of 
an education which had unavoidably been narrow. 
Indeed, he took so much delight in reading that he 
often declared that the height of his ambition was to 
earn a small competence, such as might enable 
him to spend the remainder of his life in literary 

But business had, in the meantime, to be attended 
to. In June 1779, we find him writing to Lord Paget, 
stating his concern at not being able to wait upon his 
lordship at Etruria, because of his being unable to start 
at that time without crutches. But he proceeded to 
give Lord Paget written information as to the ideas he 
had been inquiring about. 

After his eyes had recovered, he could both read and 
write about models of The Muses, Hercules, Omphale, 
The Piping Faun, The Vestals, Esculapius, and other 
artistic products. At the same time he added : " I believe 
it would do me a great deal of good to have my head 
quite clear of all business for a fortnight." 

To show the kindly feeling that existed between 
Wedgwood and Bentley, we quote the following further 
letter, on the occasion of Bentley being invited to Etruria 

128 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP, xn 

at Christmas time : " How happy should I be in 
spending a few weeks or even days with my dear 
friend ! His letters console and comfort me greatly ; 
but his cheerful and enlivening company, with the 
visible emanations of his sympathetic heart, would be 
a cordial indeed. . . . But there is a gulf between us, 
which neither one nor the other can pass with any 
degree of propriety, prudence, or convenience. 

" I am equally engaged and tied down to this spot. 
The frost has now nearly left us, and we are going to 
set out the buildings. . . . The price Mr. Pickford has 
given us in his estimate is much higher than that I can 
agree to ... but we are to try what we can do to- 
morrow. . . . 

" All our little folks are jumping and skipping about 
us. We have had one high day, concluding with a 
dance. We had a second day with the non-dancers. 
If you arrive in time we shall have a third." 



THE erection of the works at Etruria was now nearly 
finished. Bentley's house was ready for his reception. 
He was now Wedgwood's partner in artistic and orna- 
mental ware. Wedgwood was anxious to see him at 
Burslem about an extension of his London showrooms. 
" Pail-Mall," he said, " is the best situation in London. 
There is now an auction room occupied by the artists 
for their exhibition. I should like to have your opinion 
about it. ... Besides room for my ware, I must have 
more room for my ladies, for they sometimes come in 
such very large shoals together, that one party are often 
obliged to wait until another have done their business. 
... I have now about some five hundred things to do. 
I am preparing designs, models, moulds, clays, colours, 
and such like for the Vase work, by which means we 
shall be able to do business." 

In a subsequent letter he says : " I am going on with 
my experiments upon various earths, clays, etc., for 
different bodies, and shall next go upon glazes. Many 


130 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

of my experiments turn out to my wishes, and convince 
me more and more of the extensive capability of our 
manufacture for further improvements. It is at present 
in a rude uncultivated state, and may easily be brought 
to much greater perfection. Such a revolution is, I 
believe, at hand, and you must assist me and profit 
by it. ... Why, you never knew so busy a mortal 
as I am highways, canals, surveying, engine lathe 
making, experiments for porcelain, or at least a 
new earthenware, fill lip about every moment of my 

From a very early period, Wedgwood had desired to 
obtain Bentley as a partner. His object was to secure 
the aid and counsel of a man of sound judgment, upon 
whose fidelity and ability he could thoroughly rely. 
He had not been satisfied with his London agents ; and 
as he became better acquainted with Bentley, he believed 
in him more and more, and became increasingly anxious 
to obtain his services. The two became so intimate 
that Bentley was the only friend that had been present 
at the amputation of Wedgwood's limb. Yet Bentley 
was a modest man : he was not ambitious, nor desirous 
of accumulating wealth. 

At first he declined Wedgwood's offer. He was 
satisfied with his position at Liverpool, where he and 
his partner had for some years been carrying on a large 
exporting and importing trade for Wedgwood and 
others. But Wedgwood would not be denied. He 
pressed the matter of the partnership again and again ; 

xin Wedgwood's Artistic Work 131 

and at length Bentley resigned his position at Liverpool 
in favour of Boardman. 

Wedgwood desired Bentley to reside at Etruria, in 
order that he should become thoroughly initiated in the 
affairs of the firm. Bentley went first to London to 
look after the state of the agency there ; and meanwhile 
his house at Etruria was proceeded with, until it was 
nearly ready for occupation. But Bentley never took 
possession of the house ; his presence in London being 
considered more necessary for the progress of the firm. 

From the date of his recovery, Wedgwood became 
more and more absorbed in the details of his business. 
He strove to introduce the highest art in the production 
of earthenware. The drawings burnt in upon the 
edges of the plates and dishes were greatly improved. 
Wedgwood desired to foster and create a taste for 
works of art. He employed Stothard and other artists 
to design for him, and some of their works were of a 
very superior character. 

At the same time Wedgwood made many improve- 
ments in the form and material of his productions, 
especially in his vases, the demand for which became 
very great. He was constantly making inquiries about 
new clays for the improvement of his wares. 

In 1768, Wedgwood despatched his traveller Griffiths 
to South Carolina, for the purpose of procuring some 
very precious white porcelain clay which, he under- 
stood, was to be obtained in that quarter. The voyage 
proved a perilous one. Violent storms pursued the 

132 fosiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

ship. An Algerine cruiser attempted to overhaul them. 
At length they reached Charleston in safety. But 
more danger had to be encountered. Griffiths and his 
party had to travel some 300 miles into the heart of 
the country, which was beset by thieves and robbers. 
When they reached the Ayoree and Chikoree country, 
the savage Indians threatened to kill them because of 
their trespass on the hunting grounds. At length, after 
being protected by the squaws, Griffiths succeeded in 
filling five rough waggons with five tons of pure white 
earth or clay, and conveying the waggons, amid con- 
siderable peril, to Charleston. From thence the stuff 
was forthwith shipped for England. 

Wedgwood also despatched another messenger to 
obtain some other notable clay from Pensacola in 
Florida. Wherever suitable clay was to be had 
throughout the world, he invariably contrived to make 
diligent search for it. He obtained, near at hand, 
from Anglesark in Lancashire, Terra ponderosa what 
the French potters term Spath fusible and of this also 
he made diligent use. He continued to model from 
antique forms, especially from the Etruscan ; and he 
made every inquiry of his distinguished friends, for tlie 
purpose of obtaining new models for the antique vases. 
Lord Gower, Lord Cathcart, the Duke of Bedford, and 
Sir William Hamilton, were in this way of the greatest 
assistance to him. 

In order to exhibit his artistic works, it was neces- 
sary that they should be shown in some well-frequented 

xin Wedgwood 's Artistic Work 133 

district. Wedgwood found some excellent showrooms 
at the corner of Newport Street and St. Martin's Lane. 
There he exhibited his best vases and other works of 
art. No person could have exhibited these artistic 
wares with better address than Bentley. He was hand- 
some in person, and polished in manners and conversa- 
tion. He entertained his morning audiences of dukes, 
duchesses, and other noble personages, with great 
suavity and grace. He could speak most European 
languages, and descant to his hearers on Greek and 
Etruscan art, or converse in French or Italian with 
foreign ambassadors on the progress of artistic manu- 
factures in Paris or Koine. 

Among Wedgwood's numerous friends was Matthew 
Boulton of Birmingham. Boulton was a public-spirited 
man. He was one of the early promoters of the Grand 
Trunk Canal, of which Wedgwood was treasurer. He 
was one of the men who faced and overcame many 
difficulties. When James Watt's condensing steam- 
engine was in such a state that no mechanical en -ineer 
would even look at it, Boulton took it up, and after 
many years of trials and heavy losses, he eventually, 
with the assistance of Watt and Murdock, established 
the engine as a novel and extraordinary working power. 

Before his partnership with Watt, Boulton had been 
better known in connection with the inlaying of steel 
and the manufacture of bronze ornaments. As his 
business increased he desired to extend his works. He 
could not find premises in Birmingham to suit his 

134 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

purposes ; but he found a large rabbit warren at Soho, 
about two miles off, which he leased for a lengthened 
period, and proceeded to erect thereon extensive works. 
These, soon after, became the home of the condensing 
steam-engine, and the great mint of British coin. 

Josiah Wedgwood had been in a similar position 
at Burslein when he proceeded to buy the comparatively 
barren Kidgehouse estate about two miles off. He, too, 
converted an unfruitful region into a mine of wealth. 
While the works at Etruria were in course of erection, 
no one was better able to advise Wedgwood as to the 
organised system of details, than Matthew Boulton of 
Soho. The two friends often met together, and Boulton 
revealed to Wedgwood the entire series of his operations 
his bookkeeping, his method of finance, his agencies, 
his system of accounts, and all the other details of a 
large and increasing trade. 

Wedgwood had the highest opinion of Boulton's 
business genius. " He is, I believe," wrote Wedgwood 
to Bentley, "the first most complete manufacturer of 
metal in England. He is very ingenious, philosophical, 
and agreeable." Wedgwood's success had been so great 
that Boulton told his friend that he admired his vases 
so much that he almost wished to be a potter. At one 
time, indeed, he had serious thoughts of beginning the 
fictile manufacture ; but eventually he was satisfied 
to mount in metal the vases which Wedgwood had 

In view of the probable encounters in pottery, Wedg- 

xni Wedgwood's Artistic Work 135 

wood wrote to Bentley in 1769 : " It doubles iny 
courage to have the first manufacturer in England to 
encounter. The match likes me well. I like the man ; I 
like his spirit. He will not be a mere drivelling copyist 
like the antagonists I have hitherto had, but will venture 
to step out of the lines upon occasion, and afford us 
diversion in the combat. ... If we must fall, if Etruria 
cannot stand its ground but must give way to Soho, and 
fall before her, let us not sell the victory too cheap, but 
maintain our ground like men, and endeavour even in 
our defeat to share the laurels with our conquerors." 

Boulton and Wedgwood, however, never waged war- 
fare with each other. They remained sincere friends 
during the rest of their lives. Wedgwood paid a 
visit to London, accompanied by his wife and Mr. 
Bentley, in October 1768. The apartments above 
the warehouse were prepared for their reception, 
and they spent many happy days there. Matthew 
Boulton, from Soho, was in London at the same time, 
and he and Wedgwood went about searching for antique 
vases; the one to reproduce them in bronze, and the 
other in jasper or basalt. 

After a month's stay in London, Wedgwood, his wife, 
and Bentley returned to Burslem. Bentley was the 
guest of Wedgwood at the Brick House. During the 
first six months of 1769, Bentley passed from London 
through Burslem to Liverpool to wind up his affairs at 
the latter town, and to counsel his friend as to the new 
buildings at Etruria. At length the ornamental works 

136 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

at Etruria were ready for occupation on the 13th of 
June 1769. The other buildings, called the Useful 
Works that is, for the manufacture of ware for com- 
mercial purposes were only in progress. The canal in 
front of the buildings was far advanced. The mansion 
intended for the accommodation of Wedgwood and his 
family was also in progress, but by no means ready for 

It was a great day for Etruria. Mrs. Wedgwood, 
with her two children, and other friends, had come over 
from Burslem to see the beginning of the works. 
Wedgwood and Bentley were the first operators. 
Wedgwood threw off his coat and hat, turned up his 
shirt -sleeves, and putting on a workman's apron, 
sat down at the thrower's board, whilst Bentley 
turned the wheel, making the disc to revolve, while 
Wedgwood modelled the six three -handled vases in 
black basalt. After this had been done, there was an 
adjournment to the turners' room, where Wedgwood 
pared down the inequalities by the lathe, after which 
they were ready for firing. Then followed a luncheon 
and a banquet to drink success to the new undertaking. 
The vases were described by Wedgwood as " the first 
fruits of Etruria." After being burnt, they were sent 
to London to be painted in encaustic colours by one of 
Wedgwood's artists. The subject was, " Hercules and his 
Companions in the Gardens of the Hesperides," taken 
from one of the Etruscan antiquities belonging to Sir 
William Hamilton. 

Wedgwood's Artistic Work 137 

In August 1769, Bentley proceeded to London, where 
he remained for a time at the warehouse in Newport 
Street, and afterwards to the dwelling at Chelsea, which 
had been taken for his Accommodation. Wedgwood 
had already an establishment at Chelsea where he 
manufactured some of his ornamental wares. The 
place was more convenient for his London artists and 
enamellers. Bentley's house was situated in Little 
Cheyne Row, within about a stone's throw of the manu- 

The demand for Wedgwood's vases still continued 
more brisk even than before. It broke out ' in 
Dublin as well as in London. In one of his letters to 
Bentley, Wedgwood said : " Sir William Chambers, the 
architect, would not stop to tell me the difference 
between urns and vases, as he was going to wait upon 
the Queen, and he was so obliging as to take a piece of 
my ware with him, a covered dish enamelled after his 
own drawing." 

With respect to his drawing-book of vases, to be 
inspected at the London showroom by the visitors, 
Wedgwood said : " I need not tell you that it will be to 
our interest to amuse, and divert, and please, and 
astonish, nay, and even ravish the ladies ; but who am 
I writing to ? not to my wife, I hope. No, she must 
wink here ; this is all under the rose. It is to my good 
friend vase-maker general to the universe." Again 
he says to Bentley : " I have really more business cut 
out for me than I well know how to execute." 

138 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

At the beginning of 1770, Wedgwood proposed to 
Bentley that he should leave the London rooms, and go 
down to Etruria to learn the secrets of the art of 
pottery. " I would just mention to you," said Wedg- 
wood, " that when you have settled matters in the best 
manner, you can return to London and Chelsea. I 
could wish you to be at the manufactory awhile to 
learn the art of potmaking whilst I am able to go 
through that branch with you, which I shall do with 
great pleasure, and I hope you will carry on to great 
perfection those improvements which I have been 
endeavouring to lay a foundation for, and shall be 
happy in leaving them with you, my good and worthy 
friend, who neither wants ability nor spirit to pursue 
the task, may it be a pleasing and successful one ; 
indeed I have no doubt but that it will ; and so long as 
my eyes and my health will permit, I shall gladly 
assist you in it." 

All the artists were at work, Bacon, Tassie, Mrs. 
Landre, Mrs. Wilcox from Worcester, and others. 
Wedgwood was still busy with the improvement of 
the lathe for manufacturing purposes. He wrote to 
Bentley : " I believe we shall make an engine lathe or 
two here, and can do it better than at Liverpool. We 
have an ingenious and indefatigable Smith amongst us 
who, ever since engine lathes were first introduced here, 
has been constantly employed in that business ; and he 
promises me very faithfully that whatever improve- 
ments I may instruct him in, he will make them 

xni Wedgwood 1 s Artistic Work 139 

for no one else. But that, you know, is a superfluous 
engagement, as we have renounced those narrow selfish 
views, and are to let our improvements take a free 
course for the benefit of our brethren and our country." 

We give another passage from one of his letters to 
Bentley : " I would propose for this winter's sale of vases 
four species only, viz. Blue Pebble, Variegated Pebble, 
Black Etruscan, and Etruscan Encaustic. These, with the 
variations of sizes, forms, and ornaments, gilding, vein- 
ing, bas-reliefs, etc., will produce business enough for 
all the hands we can possibly get together. . . I shall 
be glad to have your thoughts upon this subject. 
You'll easily observe the foundation of my arguments is 
money-getting. Take that away, and they all drop to 
the ground. Instead of this, if you substitute Fame 
(and my bosom begins to glow with a generous warmth 
at the idea) I say if instead of money-getting you 
substitute Fame and the good of the manufacture at 
large for our principles of action, then we should do 
just the contrary of what I have been recommending. 

"Make all the good, fine, and new things we can 
immediately, and so far from being afraid of other 
people getting our patterns, we should glory in it, throw 
out all the hints we can, and if possible have all the 
Artists in Europe working after our models. This 
would be noble, and suit both our dispositions and 
sentiments much better than all the narrow, mercenary, 
selfish trammels the coats of mail we are forging for 
our reluctant hearts, to case and hamper them in their 

140 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

journey through life, and prevent all benevolent over- 
flowings for the good of their fellow-citizens. . . . 

"When the public are witnesses to our bestowing 
so much pains and expense in the improvement of a 
capital manufacture nay, in creating a new one and 
that not for our particular emolument only, but that 
we generously lay our works open to be imitated by 
other artists and manufacturers for the good of the 
community at large, this would certainly place us in a 
very advantageous light in the public estimation." 

In another letter to Bentley, Wedgwood says : " A 
German has called and says, ' They have some excellent 
Fayence and Porcelain manufactures in Germany, but 
the English forms and glazes are so much superior that 
they sell before them all.' I have indeed rather too 
much business upon my hands, especially now that you 
have left me, for when we have been together some 
time, I feel but like liolf myself when we are separated ; 
but I am much comforted with the thought of having 
you here for good and altogether. We shall then do 
something to be talked of. ... Poor Ben [Byerley], I 
hope he has repented and is forgiven by this time. 
Love has very different effects upon different subjects ; 
but all follies arising from that cause will meet with 
every possible indulgence from you, who have the 
justest and most elevated notions of that sublime 
passion which leads us, even the strongest of us, 
captives at its will." 

" I have just returned," he says, " from Etruria, where 

xin Wedgwood's Artistic Work 141 

the workmen are busy with Vases. I have enough to 
do to make the pots and manage the potmakers, though 
man for man I would rather have to do with a shop of 
potters than painters. Whilst I have been at Etruria, 
they have had here (at Burslem) Lady Gower, Lady 
Pembroke, Lord Eobert Spencer, arid others to breakfast. 
This is the second time the Trentham family have been 
here while I was absent, but it cannot be helped." 

In an appendix to the same letter to Bentley, in 
London, Wedgwood says : " Trouble me indeed ! 
You cannot think how happy you make me with these 
good, long, affectionate and instructive letters. They 
inspire me with taste, emulation, and everything that 
is necessary for the production of fine things, and I 
hope in a few weeks to show you some of the effects of 
your excellent advice. ... Oh ! what a feast I have by 
this post. Thank you for it, my dear and well-beloved 
friend. . . . Farewell, and believe me evermore, Yours, 
J. W." 

" I think pride, a certain kind of it and to a certain 
degree, is productive of a world of good amongst us 
mortals, who stand in need of every incentive to great 
and good actions. ... I will engage to supply you 
with vases enough for all the good painters in England. 
You say you can sell a waggon-load a week. If you 
sell that quantity during the season, you must have 
ten waggon-loads of painters to finish them." 

Towards the end of 1769, Wedgwood was so busy 
with the manufacture of Vases that he declined to 

142 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

accept any more orders. He directed Bentley, then in 
London, to refuse or postpone them until the works at 
Etruria could be properly finished for their execution. 
William Wood and Denby were engaged in making 
medallions and bas-reliefs from the gems and intaglios. 
Bentley would have a share of them ; but they must 
proceed methodically. 

Wedgwood paid another visit to Bentley to arrange 
some matter concerning the house at Chelsea ; and after 
the agreement had been settled, he returned to Burslem, 
or rather to Etruria, at the beginning of November 
1769. Wedgwood thus cheerfully communicated his 
reception at his new house to his friend Bentley : 

" We were three days upon the road . . . but at the 
last stage, Etruria, I was rewarded for all the risk and 
pains I had undergone during a tedious, long and dirty 
journey. I found my Sally and family at Etruria! 
just come there to take possession of the Etruscan 
plains and sleep upon them for the first night ! Was 
not this very clever now, of my own dear Girl's con- 
triving ? She expected her Joss on the very evening 
he arrived ; had got the disagreeable business of remov- 
ing all over, and I would not have been another night 
from home, for the Indies ! 

" To-night we are to sup 120 of our workmen in 
the Town-Hall, and shall take up our lodgings at 
Burslem. ... I do not know when I shall write again. 
The settling of these new hands will find me a world 
of employment." 

xin Wedgwood's Artistic Work 143 

Wedgwood desires Bentley to send him gold pre- 
cipitate for rose colour, and gold powder. " I am in 
immediate want of fine smalts and ultramarine." 

A great deal of work had to be done, and money 
spent, at Etruria, before the works and the houses for 
the accommodation of the workmen and their families 
were completed. Wedgwood increased the number 
of his lathes. " I have committed," he said, " a sad 
robbery upon my works at Burslem. I have taken 
James Brown to Etruria, the only turner of good things 
I had at Burslem. We have not an engine-turner left 
there now. Poor Burslem ! poor cream colour ! They 
tell me I sacrifice all to Etruria and Vases ! " But 
Wedgwood had no alternative. He had received 
legal notice to quit the Brick House premises ; the 
landlord himself intended to occupy them. 

Then about money. Of course the estimates were 
greatly exceeded. Wedgwood wrote to Beritley that 
he required more money, materials, and hands to finish 
the buildings. " I want at least 3000 for the purpose 
not a farthing less; so you must either collect, or 
take a place for me in the Gazette" After the build- 
ings for the manufactory, and the houses for the work- 
men and their families, there was his own mansion, 
Etruria Hall, to be erected. His family had for some 
time occupied the house intended for Mr. Bentley, but 
which he never occupied. In the meantime the 
other buildings went forward, and the kilns were built 
by degrees. 

144 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

Money, however, was found ; houses were built ; 
Etruria Hall was proceeded with, the grounds being 
under the direction of Capability Brown. The mansion, 
when completed, was a fine and roomy building, looking 
to the south, with a lake in front, and surrounded with 
a true English garden. Dr. Darwin, when writing to 
Wedgwood, said that Captain Keir of Birmingham 
admired the plan of the house and grounds, and said 
it was fit for the dwelling of a prince. 

But the manufactures conducted at Etruria were 
the prime consideration. The first works used there 
were the "Black Works," so called from the manu- 
facture of the Black Basalts. But Wedgwood went on 
from one ornamental work to another. The demand 
for vases continued to increase, in various forms 
original as well as copied from the antique ; medallion 
bas-reliefs : intaglios of many descriptions, and portraits 
of distinguished persons, some of which, those for 
instance executed by Hackwood, are quite historical. 

Wedgwood and Bentley were great opponents of 
the Slave Trade, and one of their earliest productions 
at Etruria, most probably modelled by Hackwood, was 
a chained Negro in a supplicatory attitude with a 
motto round it of : " Am I not a man and a brother ? " 
This was one of their most popular productions at the 
time it was issued. 

Wedgwood occasionally went to London to see 
and interview his partner as to the state of affairs. 
Bentley drove Wedgwood about in the chariot and 

xiii Wedgwood's Artistic Work 145 

pair which he now possessed. Among the visits which 
they paid was one to their Majesties the King and 
Queen, in order to present some bas-reliefs which the 
Queen had ordered, and to show some of their recent 
improvements in the manufacture of vases. The 
interview was satisfactory in every respect. Bentley 
wrote from Chelsea to his Liverpool partner (17th 
December 1770): "The King is well acquainted with 
business, and with the characters of the principal 
manufacturers, merchants, and artists ; he seems to 
have the success of our manufactures much at heart, 
and to understand the importance of them. The Queen 
has more sensibility, true politeness, engaging affability, 
and sweetness of temper, than any great lady I ever 
had the honour of speaking to." 

Wedgwood, however, did not rely much upon 
Eoyal Favours. He depended mostly upon himself 
and his constant efforts to improve his manufactures. 
He would not tolerate indifference or idleness. Every- 
thing must be done in the best style. " In my first 
essays upon vases," he said, "I had many things to 
learn myself, and everything to teach the workmen, 
who had not the least idea of beauty or proportion in 
what they did." When he went through his workshops, 
and found a plate, a teapot, or a vase or candlestick, 
not properly made, he would take up the stick on 
which he usually leaned, and break it to pieces, saying, 
" This won't do for Josiah Wedgwood ! " 

With him the ruling motive was intense persever- 

146 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

ance. He studied chemistry with a view to the improve- 
ment of his manufactures. He tried experiments on 
clays of all sorts, mixing them with earths of different 
colours. And yet during this period he was labouring 
under illness which might have depressed his spirits. 
But he bore up against everything. He employed new 
artists, and arranged new models of Greek statues 
and medallions from ancient gems. 

At the beginning of 1770, he was building new 
ovens. He had thirty men employed in making vases, 
and they had to be constantly superintended. There 
was also the modelling of Day as a Companion to Night, 
and the finishing of Apollo and Daphne, of which 
works Bacon was the modeller. While giving instruc- 
tions to his many artists and workmen, Wedgwood 
himself was suffering from the complaint in his eyes. 
" It is just dark," he once said, " and I am absolutely 
forbidden to write or read by candle-light." He began 
to fear continual darkness, he was even afraid of his 
brain becoming affected. Still he held on his way, and 
" steered right onward." 

In case of his worst fears being realised, he wrote to 
Bentley, stating that he wished him to learn the art 
of potmaking under him, so that in the event of his 
death the Art might not die with him. When he 
ought to have gone to London for an oculist's advice 
about his eyes, he had to postpone the journey on 
account of his workmen. "I have 150 hands at 
Etruria as well as others at Burslem, and how to leave 

xiii Wedgwood's Artistic Work 147 

them without a head, I do not know. I have 500 
worth of vases in the oven. I packed upwards of 
1200 worth at Burslem last year, and am nevertheless 
as poor as a church mouse." 

In the midst of his troubles, his faithful and devoted 
wife went to Speu Green in Cheshire to nurse her 
father during an attack of fever, and the loss of his 
companion tried him sorely. He went, however, to 
join her there during a few days, in the depth of winter. 
On the 10th of January he was at Spen Green, weather- 
bound, while the snow was falling very heavily, but ere 
long the recovery of the invalid enabled Wedgwood 
and his wife to return to Etruria. 

At the same time, apart from these drawbacks, the 
business had been very prosperous. Continuous orders 
were coming in ; there was still the rage for vases ; 
the demands for the Queen's ware were steadily rising ; 
and there seemed, provided his health were preserved, 
a sure prospect of an eventual fortune. 



IN the pre-Wedgwood days, when England was for the 
most part dependent for its supply upon the earthen- 
ware manufacturers of Delft in Holland, and the porce- 
lain manufacturers of Limoges and Sevres in France, 
this country had comparatively little market for its 
fictile ware in any foreign country. But now there 
was a large and increasing demand for English 

"And do you really think," "Wedgwood wrote to 
Bentley in September 1770, "that we might make a 
complete conquest of France ? Conquer France in 
Burslem ! My blood moves quicker ; I feel my strength 
increases for this conquest. Conquer France by pottery 
ware ! Pots," continues Wedgwood, " how vulgar it 
sounds ! " Yet he was supported by Boulton of Soho, 
who told him how the French were buying vases in 
London how they took them over to Paris, mounted 
and ornamented them with metal, and sold them to 
Milords Anglais as the greatest rarities. "You re- 

CH. xiv Portraits, Medallions, Artistic Work 149 

member," says Boulton, " we saw many such things at 
Lord Bolingbroke's, which he brought over with him 
from France." 

With respect to ordinary ware, the demands for 
Wedgwood's manufactures were constantly increasing 
in France, Italy, and over the continent generally, 
as well as in North America and the West Indian 
islands. See what Faujas de Saint Fond, Professor 
of Geology in the Museum of Natural History, Paris, 
says of the superior merits of Wedgwood's ware 
in his Travels in England : " Its excellent work- 
manship, its solidity, the advantage which it pos- 
sesses of withstanding the action of fire ; its fine glaze 
impenetrable to acids; the beauty, convenience, and 
variety of its forms, and its moderate price, have created 
a commerce so active and so universal, that in travelling 
from Paris to St. Petersburg, from Amsterdam to the 
farthest point of Sweden, from Dunkirk to the southern 
extremity of France, one is served at every inn from 
English earthenware. The same fine article adorns the 
tables of Spain, Portugal, and Italy; and it provides 
the cargoes of ships to the East Indies, the West Indies, 
and America." 

Wedgwood was also greatly indebted to Sir William 
Hamilton for his researches and discoveries in connec- 
tion with ancient art. While Ambassador at Naples 
he encouraged and supported the investigations at the 
buried city of Herculaneum. In 1766-67 he published 
his AntiqidUs Utrusques, which furnished Wedgwood 

150 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

with many of his patterns for Etruscan vases. At a 
future period of his life, Hamilton was a frequent 
correspondent with Wedgwood in his efforts to improve 
English art. Sir William's first publication will remain 
a monument of his patriotism and his taste ; but it 
could not have been productive of its full and proper 
advantages in improving the general taste without a 
multiplication and diffusion of accurate copies of the 
beautiful originals. And this Wedgwood, by his in- 
dustry and discoveries, was enabled to perform with 
advantage to himself and the public. 

The execution of such a work presented difficulties 
which were at that time believed to be insurmountable. 
The vases of ancient Etruria were painted with durable 
colours burnt in by fire, but perfectly free from the 
glossy or shining aspect of enamel paintings ; and the 
application of these colours appears to have been, even 
in the time of Pliny, one of the lost arts of preceding 
ages. Wedgwood never would have attempted the 
rediscovery of the lost art, if some previous experi- 
ments of his own had not given him a glimpse of 
success, which was at length, by perseverance, com- 
pletely attained. His colours were fully as beautiful 
as the originals, and susceptible of greater variety; 
like these also, they possessed the advantage of never 
spreading in the fire, or running out of drawing, as all 
enamel colours must do, in a greater or less degree, in 
consequence of their vitrifying and melting upon the 


Portraits, Medallions, Artistic Work 151 

For this discovery, Wedgwood took out a patent 
the only patent he ever registered. He had a dislike 
to patents, for the defence of patents against pirates 
required the expenditure of more money than they 
were worth. His object was to go ahead, and keep in 
advance of the pirates by his new improvements and 
discoveries. It was more by the advice of his friends, 
than from his own unbiassed judgment, that he took 
out this special patent. He was content with the 
advantages he had already acquired, and was better 
pleased to see thousands made happy by following him 
in the same career of industry, than he could be by 
any exclusive enjoyment for himself. He was opposed 
to patents on another account ; because, in most cases, 
while they tied up the hands of our own countrymen, 
they laid the discovery open to any foreigners who 
might think it worth their while to take them up, and 
propagate them to their own advantage, and to our loss. 
Nevertheless, Wedgwood took out this his only patent, 
and he was afterwards called upon to defend it. 

Of the " first fruits of Etruria "formed by Wedg- 
wood on the potter's wheel, and the wheel turned by 
Bentley some were deposited in the foundation of 
Etruria Hall, and the rest were sent to London, but not 
for sale. When the vases were called for by the public 
in large quantities, a work was established at Chelsea 
under the direction of Bentley, who collected a large 
number of artists for their preparation. An immense 
number of the vases were sold, both at home and 

152 Josiak Wedgwood CHAP. 

abroad, and nearly every museum possesses specimens, 
showing the state of the fictile art in England at that 

The painted Etruscan ornaments were becoming 
familiar to the public eye, as the large demands for 
vases made them comparatively common, and as then- 
sale began to decline, Wedgwood availed himself of his 
large supply of artists to start a new manufacture. His 
discovery of the Jasper porcelain enabled him to copy 
another branch of ancient art that of modelling 
Cameos, or heads, and artistic figures engraved in relief. 

Professor Church, in his admirable paper on Josiah 
Wedgwood, in Hamerton's Portfolio for March 1894, 
says that it was Wedgwood's " appreciation of antique 
gems cut in onyx and niccolo that led him to invent 
the most original and the most beautiful of all the 
ceramic materials with which he worked. This was 
the jasper body, or jasper paste. Though it may be 
roughly described, when in its simplest form, as opaque 
and white, its opacity ; and whiteness were susceptible 
of considerable variation. Sometimes it has the dead- 
ness of chalk, but the finer varieties possess the delicate 
hue and faint translucency of ivory or vellum. Wedg- 
wood and his artists took advantage of this translucent 
character of the white jasper, as it allowed the colour 
of the ground to appear in a slight degree through the 
thinner parts of the cameo reliefs, and thus suggested, 
as in some draperies, the idea of a fine and light texture. 
On the other hand, there were many subjects and styles 

xiv Portraits, Medallions, Artistic Work 153 

of treatment where any marked degree of translucency 
in the material used for the reliefs was of decided 
disadvantage ; here the more opaque varieties of the 
jasper body were preferred. The smoothness of surface 
which this ware, as made by Josiah Wedgwood, almost 
invariably possessed, is delightful at once to the senses 
of touch and sight, and, moreover, it affords one of the 
best criteria for distinguishing old work from new. It 
was caused chiefly by the extreme fineness to which 
the components of the jasper body were reduced, but 
the exact adjustment of the temperature of firing the 
ware to its composition doubtless influenced the result." 

This material was called jasper from its resemblance 
to that stone. The jasper ware was made of white 
porcelain bisque, and was susceptible of receiving 
colours throughout its whole substance, but more 
especially of being stained with fine mazarine blue. 
This property of receiving colours, which no other 
body, either ancient or. modern, has been known to 
possess, rendered it peculiarly fit for cameos, portraits, 
and all subjects in bas-reliefs, as the ground may be 
made of any colour throughout, the raised figures being 
of a pure white. 

"The peculiarity in chemical composition," says 
Professor Church, " which marks out the jasper ware 
body from all other ceramic pastes, was brought about 
by the introduction of a compound of the element 
barium." This is chiefly found in the form of sulphate, 
the mineral being found abundantly in Derbyshire, 

154 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

where it is known as cawk, heavy spar, and barytes. 
Wedgwood had been experimenting on the mineral as 
early as the year 1773. By successive experiments, 
he perfected his invention. He afterwards invented 
his "jasper-dip," in 1777, in order to economise the 
costly use of cobalt; though by its employment, the 
most delicate and refined effects were produced. 

Nothing can long remain secret in the potteries. 
The workmen soon spread about any new mode of manu- 
facture. Wedgwood preserved his secret for about 
twelve years ; but it was at last imitated by one Turner, 
though from different materials ; and it was in the end 
generally adopted in Staffordshire, though with very 
inferior results, by other manufacturers. It is rather 
remarkable that this manufacture was carried on success- 
fully for more than twelve years before anything of the 
kind had been executed by any other person. Wedg- 
wood seemed to have been more attached to this than 
to any other part of his productions, and to have had 
its success more thoroughly at heart ; probably from 
the early bent of his genius, which led him to imi- 
tate in clay whatever object happened to engage his 
attention. He had made considerable advances in it 
before he had access to the models still to be found 
in modern Eome, and while he had no other assist- 
ance than that of the artists whom he himself had 
taught ; but when, at considerable expense, he had 
procured copies or casts of the most celebrated bas- 
reliefs, he made vases and other artistic works, which 

xiv Portraits, Medallions, Artistic Work 155 

obtained for his productions a distinguished rank 
amongst the fine arts of the age. 

The amount and variety of work done by Wedg- 
wood almost exceed belief. He never absolutely 
copied. Though obtaining his first idea from the an- 
tique, his was for the most part original. He varied 
his forms, adding many beautiful variations in the 
flowers and festoons which ornamented his jars and 
vases. He produced candlesticks, buttons, flowerpots, 
sphinxes, tritons, dolphins, crouching lions; at first in 
black basalt, and afterwards in jasper. He went on 
from one ware to another, always improving them. John 
Coward was his principal modeller, and David Ehodes 
his principal enameller, the latter remaining with the 
firm until his death in 1777. Hack wood was principal 
modeller of the heads of men of distinction and genius. 

In his Jasper ware he produced many works of great 
artistic merit. In a future chapter the medallions of 
Flaxman, perhaps the greatest of English sculptors, 
will be referred to. Wedgwood's aim was to produce 
not only the largest quantity, but the best quality of 
the goods which he offered for sale. He went over his 
workshops and watched the workmen carefully. They 
knew the peculiar thud of his wooden leg as he mounted 
the stairs leading to the workshops. He always carried 
a stick because of his lameness. When any vessel 
failed to satisfy him, because of its want of geometrical 
proportions, he would take up his stick and at once 
break it to pieces. 

156 Josiak Wedgwood CHAP. 

He was greatly influenced by the advice of his lady 
friends. While producing his pyramidal flowerpots, he 
consulted Miss Fothergill, the eminent botanist's sister, 
as to their ornamental decoration. She was almost as 
good a botanist as her brother. " I speak from experi- 
ence in Female taste," he wrote to Bentley, " without 
which I should have made but a poor figure amongst 
my pots, not one of which, of any consequence, is 
finished without the approbation of my Sally." 

Wedgwood was also greatly indebted to Mrs. South- 
well for her excellent hints about the decoration of his 
ornamental flowerpots. " She is a charming woman," 
he wrote to Bentley ; " I am more and more in love 
with her every time I see her ; and having such a mis- 
tress in the science of flowerpot-dressing, I hope our 
future productions will show that I have profited ac- 
cordingly." He was also helped by older and more 
illustrious patrons : Lady Dover and Lady Teignham 
were ladies of great taste, and cheerfully assisted Wedg- 
wood in his efforts in flowerpot and brooch decoration. 

To forward his views as to decorative improvement, 
he requested Ehodes to advertise again, and invite any 
hands that had been employed in painting figures, 
flowers, jars, or other decoration on china, to apply to 
him in Little Cheyne Eow, Chelsea, where they would 
find profitable employment. "What has become," he 
wrote to Bentley, " of your scheme for taking in girls 
to paint? Have you spoken to Mrs. Wright? Mr. 
Coward, too, said he could tell you of some fan-painters. 

xiv Portraits, Medallions, Artistic Work 157 

You observe very justly that few hands can be got to 
paint flowers in the style we wish them to be done I 
may add, nor any other work we do. We must make 
them. There is no other way. We have stepped forward 
before the other manufacturers, and we must strive to 
train up hands to suit our purposes. Where, amongst 
our potters, could I get a complete Vase-maker ? Nay, 
I could not get a hand through the whole pottery to 
make a table plate, without training him up for that 
purpose ; and you must be content to train up such 
painters as offer, and not turn them adrift because they 
cannot immediately form their hands to our new style, 
which, if we consider what they have been doing all 
their life, we ought not to expect from them." 

Wedgwood proceeded to press Bentley about his 
proposed drawing and modelling school for the purpose 
of training up artists. He would employ young boys 
and girls, and set them drawing and modelling until 
they were proficient ; and when any new modellers 
were wanted, draft them out of this school. In the 
meanwhile, Wedgwood sent some new painters to Lon- 
don from Etruria. Some of them went by waggon ; 
Mr. and Mrs. Wilcox were a week on the road, with 
their pencils and brushes tied in a bundle. Those who 
went by the lumbering coach were three days on the 
road. What a difference in the rate of travelling 
nowadays ! 

We have already said that Wedgwood aimed at pro- 
ducing the largest quantity, as well as the best quality, 

158 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

of the goods which he offered for sale. In one of his 
catalogues he said : " A competition for cheapness, and 
not for excellence of workmanship, is the most frequent 
and certain cause of the rapid decay and entire destruc- 
tion of arts and manufactures. . . . This observation 
is equally applicable to manufactures and to the pro- 
ductions of the fine arts ; but the degradation is more 
fatal to the latter than the former, for, though an ordi- 
nary piece of goods for common use is always dearer 
than the best of the kind, yet an ordinary and tasteless 
piece of ornament is not only dear at any price, but 
absolutely useless and ridiculous. . . . The proprietors of 
this manufactory do not produce works for those who 
estimate them by their magnitude, and who would buy 
pictures at so much a foot. They have been happy in 
the encouragement and support of many illustrious 
persons who judge of the works of art by better prin- 
ciples ; and so long as they have the honour of being 
thus patronised, they will endeavour to support and 
improve the quality and taste of their manufactures." 

Down to the discovery of the Jasper ware by 
Wedgwood, his goods were mostly earthenware, and 
this was shortly after changed for its superior, porce- 
lain. In a future chapter we shall describe soft and 
hard porcelain ; because Wedgwood afterwards made a 
journey to Cornwall in search of the material. He 
continued employing modellers Tassie on Apollo and 
Daphne ; Bacon on Night and the God of Day ; Mrs. 
Landre on Neptune and a large Sea Nymph for a pair 

xiv Portraits, Medallions, Artistic Work 159 

of Candelabra. He contrived many of these inventions 
in order to provide employment for his artists, on the de- 
clining demand for the Etruscan vases. The public, he 
said, were becoming surfeited. He was satisfied, however, 
as a large demand continued to exist for his useful ware. 

On the 31st of May he wrote to Bentley of what he 
called St. Amputation Day. He must have been mis- 
taken, as his leg was amputated on the eighth of the 
month. Some of his ornamental ware failed. " I con- 
dole with you (Bentley) on the return of your Elephant, 
and will send you no more of such cumbrous animals. 
For, as the lady said, I fear we made a Bull when we 
first made an Elephant. I have given over the thought 
of making any other colour but Queen's ware. The 
White ware would be much dearer, and, I apprehend, not 
much better liked. The Queen's ware, while it continues 
to sell, gives quite as much business as I can manage." 

Notwithstanding the failure of the Ornamental 
ware, Wedgwood wrote to Bentley on the 2nd August 
1770 : "In Ireland there seems to be a violent Vase 
Mania breaking out. We must take a room in Dublin, 
and conquer the Irish by our Vases. The Duke of 
Leinster is in raptures with a pair of our Vases given to 
him by the Duke of Kichmond." " We are making two 
or three Eockingham Vases. They are enormous things 
a yard high, and will be thirty-one inches when fired. 
Pray for our success, for they are perilous goods, and 
have many chances against them. But they are a 
Sacrifice to Fame, and we must not look back." 

160 Josiak Wedgwood CHAP. 

Wedgwood got another order from the King for a 
new Table Service, and was allowed to exhibit it for a 
month. This improved his reputation and his business. 
He was not insensible to reputation. To Bentley he 
said, " Let us make all the Good, Fine, and New things 
we can ; and so far from being afraid of other people 
getting our patterns, we should glory in it, throw out 
all the hints we can, and if possible have all the 
artists in Europe working after our models. This 
would be noble, and would suit both our dispositions 
and sentiments much better than all the narrow, 
mercenary, selfish trammels. . . . Have you forgotten 
how our hearts burned within us, when we con- 
versed upon this subject on our way from Liverpool 
to Prescot ? We were then persuaded that this 
open, generous plan would not only be most congenial 
to our hearts and best feelings, but in all probability 
might best answer our wishes in pecuniary advan- 
tages. . . . 

" When the Nobility witness our bestowing so much 
pains and expense in the improvement of a capital Manu- 
facture, nay, in creating a new one, and that not for our 
particular emolument only, but that we generously lay 
our works open to be imitated by other artists and 
manufacturers for the good of the community at large ; 
this would certainly procure us the good will of our 
best customers, and place us in an advantageous light 
in the public eye. . . . With respect to Eivalship, we 
will cast all dread of that behind our back, treat it as a 

xiv Portraits, Medallions, Artistic Work 161 

base and vanquished enemy, and not bestow another 
serious thought upon it." 

This was really a noble and generous mode of action. 
It was agreed to by Bentley, as well as by Matthew 
Boulton of Soho; and it was in this spirit that the 
manufactures of Etruria and Soho were carried on. 

In 1770, we find Wedgwood bringing out the Infant 
Hercules and the Somnus or Sleeping Boy, an exquisite 
subject modelled by Coward from the antique; and the 
Autumn (a boy) and Neptune, modelled by Hoskins. 
These were mostly in Black Basalts. Wedgwood was 
still troubled with his eyesight. He could not write 
by candle-light, and every moment of the daylight was 
absorbed in overseeing the Vase-makers, the Statuaries, 
the Potters, and the other workmen at the manufactory. 
He was still busy with the Service for his Majesty ; and 
with the large Eockingham Vases. 

" Do not think," he wrote to Bentley, " by what I 
have said, that my eyes are worse, but I am sensible of 
my danger, and the last attack may be sudden and not 
give me an opportunity of communicating many things 
which I would not have to die with me. I know how 
ill you can be spared from the rooms, but I think it 
will be better to suffer a little inconvenience for the 
present, than leave you immersed in a business, and 
not master of the principal part of it." Wedgwood 
still wished Bentley to be at Etruria, to learn the 
secrets of the trade. But Wedgwood's gloomy fore- 
boding remained unfulfilled. His wife returned to 


1 62 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

him from Spen Green. His old surgeon Dr. Bent 
removed his disease which was, it seems, a liver 
affection and he was able before long to resume his 
usual business career. 

Wedgwood was not only troubled with his eyes, but 
with his artificial leg. He could not attend a meeting 
with Boulton and Keir at Birmingham because of some 
injury to his pin leg. Wedgwood wrote to Athenian 
Stuart one of his intimate friends that he was able 
to go abroad again, though, he added, " I am not fond 
of doing so in frosty weather, being not so expert a 
footman as I have been, and a slip or accident to my 
better leg might lay me up for good and all" 

His business avocations never interfered with Wedg- 
wood's love for his family. In April 1771 was born 
his fourth and last son, Thomas. To amuse his children, 
he bought a barrel organ, which played many tunes. 
" The organ arrived safe," he wrote to Bentley, " and a 
most joyful opening of it we have had. About twenty 
young sprigs were made as happy as mortals could be, 
and danced and lilted away. It would have done your 
heart good to have seen them. I wish we had had your 
sprightly niece with us; but give my love to her. When 
we send the organ to town again, it shall be sent 
to Chelsea for a week or two, for her amusement." 

Sir William Hamilton, British Ambassador at 
Naples, a great friend and promoter of art, published a 
series of splendid volumes on Etruscan, Greek, and 
Eoman antiquities, from which Wedgwood copied 


Portraits, Medallions, Artistic Work 163 

many of his Etruscan vases. In June 1773 Sir 
William addressed a letter from Naples to Wedgwood 
and Bentley, as follows : 

" Gentlemen As I have nothing more at heart 
than to contribute, as far as I can, towards the ad- 
vancement of the Fine Arts in Great Britain, and as 
your manufacture has indeed already done great honour 
to my poor endeavours, I have the pleasure of sending 
you a few drawings of most elegant formed vases which 
are in the Great Duke of Tuscany's collection, and 
differ from those found in my collection. They are 
truly worthy of your imitation, and as the originals are 
simply black with the ornaments in relief, your ware is 
capable of imitating them exactly." 

Wedgwood proceeded to copy the vases. It may be 
added that Sir William Hamilton's valuable collection 
of Greek and Etruscan vases is now in the British 
Museum, together with many of the marbles dug up 
from Herculaneum, now in the Townley Gallery of the 
same museum. 

Hackwood, the modeller, was now busily employed. 
" I hope," said Wedgwood to Bentley, " that you have 
read Mr. Elers' fine letter. We are preparing to send 
down the heads of all the illustrious men in all the 
Courts and Countries of Europe to be immortalised in 
our artificial Jasper." 

The Paul Elers referred to was the father of 
Ptichard Lovell Edgworth's first wife. He was also the 
son of one of the brothers Elers, who came into 

164 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

Staffordshire from Germany at the close of the seven- 
teenth century. 

The first heads produced were those of the King and 
Queen. These were followed by portraits of Sir Philip 
Sidney, the Empress of Kussia, the King of Prussia, 
Earl Gower, Lord Mansfield, Lord Chatham, the King 
and Queen of Portugal, the Duke of Bridgewater, 
Athenian Stuart, and many others. 

Domestic troubles intervened. Mrs. Wedgwood 
had a severe attack of rheumatism. She was bled and 
blistered. When she was well enough to leave Etruria, 
she was sent to Buxton. She was very ill on her 
return, and was " wasted almost to a skeleton, scarcely 
able to walk a few yards." Dr. Darwin saw her from 
time to time, when passing on his rounds of visits. 
Besides the illness at home, Wedgwood was inexpress- 
ibly sorry to hear of Bentley's illness in London. 
Wedgwood urged that he should be sent into the 
country as soon as possible. 

Wedgwood was exceedingly provoked and humili- 
ated by the war between England and America. I am 
ashamed, he said, of the absurdity, folly, and wicked- 
ness, of the whole proceedings with America. The 
King and the House of Commons are entirely to blame 
for it. "Somebody," he added, "should be made to 
say distinctly what is the object of the present most 
wicked and preposterous war with our brethren and 
best friends." At a later period (April 1778) he 
wrote to Bentley : " How could you frighten me so in 

xiv Portraits, Medallions, Artistic Work 165 

your last letter? It was very naughty of you. I 
thought of nothing less than some shelves or perhaps a 
whole floor of vases and crockeries had given way, and 
that you had been carried down with them ! But on 
reading a little further I found that it was only the 
nation that was likely to flounder into a French war ; and 
having been fully persuaded of this event for a long 
time past, I recovered from my shock, and blessed my 
stars and Lord North, that America was free}- I rejoice 
most sincerely that it is so, and the pleasing ideas of a 
refuge being provided for those who choose jather to 
fly from than submit to an iron hand of tyranny. This 
has raised so much hilarity in my mind, that I do , not 
at present feel for our own situation as I may do the 
next rainy day. We must have more war, and perhaps 
continue to be beaten to what degree is in the womb 
of time. If our drubbing keeps pace with our deserts, 
the Lord have mercy upon us ! " 

Here is the state of Staffordshire in 1778. Wedg- 
wood writes to Bentley as follows : " For some time 
past the environs of Newcastle have rivalled those of 
London for the number and audacity of highway 
robberies, and Etruria does not yield at all to Turnham 
Green. The workmen dare not go to their houses in 
the evenings but in troops, and armed with clubs. On 
Monday night last, there were three highway robberies 

1 This probably refers to the defeat of the British army Burgoyne 
surrounded and capitulated at Saratoga thus thwarting the policy 
of Lord North. 

1 66 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP, xiv 

between this place [Etruria] and Newcastle. I got 
some knowledge of the gentlemen on Tuesday morning, 
and sent some of my people in pursuit of them, 
who brought me in two of the robbers ; a third 
is brought in this morning, and we have sent out 
in pursuit of two more. Those we have in custody 
have confessed various robberies, and those of their 
accomplices." At Stafford, where the robbers were 
tried, two of them were sentenced to be hanged, 
and the others were acquitted for want of sufficient 

In May 1778 Wedgwood's brother-in-law, the Eev. 
Mr. Willett, died after a loDg illness. He was calm, 
serene, and sensible to the last moment. Wedgwood 
wrote to his friend Bentley : " The decline and weak- 
ness of old age afford but a melancholy prospect to 
those who feel themselves approaching just to the same 
state ; and from the observations I have made, I find 
the oldest men, philosophers, nay, even Christians, and 
the firmest believers, cling as fast to this wicked 
world, as younger folks and those who have their 
doubts concerning futurity. Well, since it is so and 
will be so, let us, my dear Bentley, enjoy and diffuse 
amongst our friends every real happiness within our 
power, and not torment ourselves with useless anxieties, 
nor waste an hour of the very small portion of time 
allotted to us here. I know those are your sentiments, 
and I will endeavour to make them more and more those 
of your ever affectionate friend, Jos. WEDGWOOD." 



THE rooms in Newport Street were too small for the 
exhibition of Wedgwood's more important works. 
The principal part of them were accordingly removed 
to Portland House, Greek Street, Soho then an 
important west-end quarter. There Bentley was in his 
glory. " Be so good," wrote Wedgwood to him, " as to 
let me know what is going forward in the Great World. 
How many lords and dukes visit your rooms, praise 
your beauties, thin your shelves, and fill your purses ; 
and if you will take the trouble to acquaint us with 
the daily ravages in your stores, we will endeavour to 
replenish them." Besides his dukes and duchesses, 
Bentley was visited by more distinguished persons. 
The King and Queen inspected his storeroom; and 
among his other visitors were " Athenian Stuart," Dr. 
Solander, and Sir Joseph Banks. 

Bentley was a most courtly man. He was hand- 
some in person, genial in manner, a good scholar, and 

1 68 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

knew many languages. None could, better than he, 
set off Wedgwood's ornamental ware, tell anecdotes of 
the vases, bas-reliefs, and cameos, with which the rooms 
were stored ; and he thus delighted the ladies, who not 
only admired the relater, but bought his ornamental 

"Mrs. Byerley," again wrote Wedgwood from 
Etruria, " has just returned from London, and brings a 
strange account of the goings on in Newport Street; 
no getting to the door for coaches, nor getting into the 
rooms for ladies and gentlemen; .and vases, she says, 
are all the rage." The rage for vases as well as for 
Queen's ware fell off; but Wedgwood endeavoured to 
find markets for the new productions. He even 
thought of employing a rider to go about the country 
and tout for orders. One of the wares he thought of 
producing was a new variety of basaltes. " I am well 
assured," he wrote to Bentley, "that painted black 
ware with encaustic colours will have a great run." 

The painted black ware, however, was not very 
successful. Wedgwood continued his efforts to dis- 
cover the clay most suitable for crucibles, retorts, 
mortars and pestles. His experiments occupied a con- 
siderable time, and it was not until he ascertained that 
the clay from Cornwall was the most suitable, that his 
mortars obtained the preference over all others. From 
the tests which they withstood at the Apothecaries' 
Hall they acquired a reputation which has lasted to 
the present day. 


Grow an Clay Kaolin 169 

The Cornish Clay called also the Porcelain or 
Growan Clay was suitable for many purposes for 
which the Staffordshire clays were unsuitable. It 
was sent by sea from Saint Austell to Liverpool, and 
from thence the materials for hard porcelain, mortars, 
crucibles, and pyrometers, were sent on to Etruria, to 
be worked into their proper forms. Hard porcelain was 
of so much importance in the manufacture of china that 
it is necessary to make some special reference to it. 
Moreover, Wedgwood afterwards made a driving tour to 
the West of England in search of this porcelain clay. 

Porcelain was manufactured in China from which 
country it obtained the name which it still retains 
long before it was known in Europe. Hard porcelain is 
said to have been invented at Sin-ping in China, as 
long ago as 185 years before Christ. It was imported 
into Europe through means of the Arabs, and was sold 
at very high prices. Kaolin was the name given by 
the Chinese to the fine white clay which they use in 
making their porcelain. It is produced by the decom- 
position of a granite rock, the constituents of which are 
quartz, mica, and felspar the whole having gradually 
mouldered into kaolin by the joint action of air and 

A very similar clay occurs in the south of Cornwall, 
produced by the decomposition of Pegmatite a granite 
in which there is scarcely any mica and very little 
quartz. A similar clay is found at St. Yrieux la Perche, 
near Limoges, in France ; at La Doccia, near Florence ; 

170 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

at Capo di Monte, near Naples, in Italy; and near 
Madrid and Oporto, in Spain and Portugal. Another 
discovery of white kaolin was made at Aue in Saxony, 
in 1709, to which a very remarkable story is attached. 

Porcelain is soft or hard, but the latter is the more 
important. Soft porcelain was first manufactured at 
St. Cloud in 1695, but after the discovery of hard 
porcelain by Bottgher at Meissen near Dresden, the 
manufacture of soft porcelain was discontinued in 
France, and nothing but hard porcelain was thereafter 
manufactured at Sevres. The story to which we refer 
is as follows : 

John Frederic Bottgher was born at Schleiz in 1685, 
and at twelve years of age he was bound apprentice 
to an apothecary at Berlin. He occupied many of his 
leisure hours in chemical experiments. Alchemy was 
then in vogue, and after several years Bottgher pre- 
tended that he had been able to convert Copper into 
Gold. The news spread abroad that the apothecary's 
apprentice had discovered the grand secret, of which 
every alchemist was in search, and crowds came from 
all quarters to see the " Young Gold-Cook." Perhaps it 
may have been to the apothecary's advantage to notice 
the wonder excited by his apprentice. 

Frederick I., King of Prussia, was very much in want 
of money at the time. He desired to appropriate at 
once the great converter of copper into gold. The King 
had an interview with Bottgher, who presented him 
with a piece of gold which he pretended had been con- 


Bbttgher 1 7 1 

verted from copper. The King proposed to secure the 
apprentice and imprison him in the strong fortress of 
Spandau, in order that he might continue his alchemical 
operations in favour of His Majesty's needs. Bottgher 
heard of the project, and probably fearing detection, he 
fled from Berlin and took refuge in Saxony. 

A reward of a thousand thalers was offered for 
Bottgher's apprehension, but on arriving at Wittenberg, 
he placed himself under the protection of Frederick 
Augustus I., Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. 
The Elector was quite as much in need of money as the 
King of Prussia, and he would not surrender his young 
alchemist. Bottgher was accordingly held a prisoner. 
He was conveyed to Dresden under charge of a royal 
escort and kept under strict guard. 

After many attempts, Bottgher failed to supply the 
wants of the Elector. The copper he employed remained 
copper, and could not be converted into gold. In his 
despair he escaped and fled to Ems in Austria, but 
the pursuers were close at his heels ; they arrested him 
in his bed, and carried him back to Saxony. He was 
imprisoned in the strong fortress of Konigstein. The 
Elector was now in great distress for money. Ten 
regiments of Poles were clamouring for their arrears of 
pay. The young alchemist was told that unless he 
could make gold, he would be hanged ! 

But he was not hanged. He went on making experi- 
ments, but with no success. At length one of his wise 
friends came to him Walter von Tschinhaus, a maker 

1 72 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

of optical instruments and also an alchemist and said 
to Bottgher, still in fear of the gallows, " If you can't 
make gold, try and do something else ; make porcelain ! " 
Some rare specimens of this ware had been brought from 
China by the Portuguese, and were sold for more than 
their weight in gold. 

Bottgher at once acted on his friend's hint. He 
began his experiments on clay, working night and day. 
After many failures, some red clay was brought to him 
for the purpose of making his crucibles, and then he 
was set on the right track. This clay, when submitted 
to a high temperature, became vitrified and retained its 
shape. In texture it resembled porcelain, except in 
colour and opacity. He had, in fact, accidentally dis- 
covered red porcelain, and he manufactured and sold it 
as porcelain. 

He was aware, however, that the transparent white 
colour was an essential property of true porcelain. 
Years passed, when another happy accident came to his 
help. One day in the year 1707 he found his peruke 
very heavy and asked his valet " what was the reason." 
The valet said that the powder with which the wig was 
dressed consisted of a kind of earth that was much used 
for hair-powder. Bottgher at once thought that this 
might be the very earth of which he was in search ! 
He at once experimented, and found that the principal 
ingredient of the hair-powder was kaolin, the want of 
which had so long formed an apparently insuperable 
difficulty in the way of his investigations. 

xv Bottgher and Porcelain 173 

This discovery proved of much greater importance 
than the young alchemist's proposal to convert copper 
into gold. Bottgher presented the first piece of hard 
porcelain to the Elector in October 1707. The Elector 
was greatly pleased with it, and he resolved that the 
discoverer should be furnished with the means for per- 
fecting his invention. Bottgher abandoned alchemy for 
pottery, and placed over the door of his workshop these 
words : 

Almighty God, the Great Creator, 
Has changed a Goldmaker to a Potter. 

The porcelain which Bottgher manufactured being 
found to sell for large prices, the Elector determined to 
establish a Royal Manufactory of Porcelain. Accord- 
ingly a large series of buildings was erected at the 
Albrectsburg in Meissen. The porcelain manufactory 
was very successful, and the large profits soon pro- 
vided the Elector with the gold of which he was in 

It is pitiful to think of the treatment to which 
Bottgher was subjected. He was always under strict 
guard. Soldiers were constantly about him. Two 
royal officials were put over him at the factory. He 
was treated as the King's prisoner. He was locked up 
nightly in his room, with a guard of soldiers outside to 
prevent his escape. In short, he was enslaved. No 
more inhuman treatment was ever awarded to an im- 
portant discoverer. At last the poor fellow took to 

174 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

drinking, and eventually he died, quite broken down, 
in March 1719, in the thirty-fifth year of his age. 1 

The merits of this great inventor were only publicly 
recognised a few years ago. On the 17th of October 
1891, a monument was erected to the memory of 
Bottgher at Meissen ; yet 182 years before, in 1709, he 
had established the first hard porcelain manufactory in 
Saxony. We are late in recognising the memory of our 
benefactors. In the same year a statue to Bernard 
Palissy was unveiled at his birthplace, Villeneuve-sur- 
Lot, on the 6th of July 1891. Three hundred years 
before, he died in the Bastille at the age of eighty. He 
was a Protestant, which was the cause of his imprison- 
ment. The valiant, persevering old man died a martyr 
to his faith, though he was not burnt at the stake. 

The porcelain manufacture became so productive to 
the Elector of Saxony that his example was shortly 
after followed by European monarchs. Every care was 
taken at Meissen to preserve the secret ; but where many 
workmen are employed no secret is safe. A workman 
named Stofzel carried it to Vienna in 1722, where an 
imperial manufactory for the manufacture of hard 
porcelain was afterwards established. Eoyal works 
were founded at Berlin, St. Petersburg, Munich, and at 
Sevres in 1755, under Louis XV., when the manu- 
facture of soft porcelain was almost entirely discon- 

The introduction of hard porcelain into England was 

1 A much fuller account of Bottgher is given in Self-Help. 


Cookworthy 175 

due entirely to individual enterprise. No royal powers 
were conferred upon its first makers. Yet the narrative 
of its introduction is not without interest. Kaolin, or 
China Clay, was discovered in Cornwall by William 
Cookworthy, a chemist and druggist at Plymouth. As 
early as 1*745 his attention was directed to the subject 
of porcelain. He made experiments on the clays of 
Cornwall and Devon. He scientifically and carefully 
examined them. After long and varied experiments he 
discovered, in 1768, that the materials for the manu- 
facture of genuine porcelain existed at Tregonnin Hill, 
in the parish of Germo, between Helston and Penzance ; 
and also in the parish of St. Stephens, between Truro, 
St. Austell, and St. Columb ; as well as at Boconnoc, 
near the family seat of Thomas Pitt, Lord Camelford. 1 

There is a traditional belief, says Mr. Jewitt, that 
Cookworthy first found the stone he was anxious to 
discover in the tower of St. Columb church, which is 
built of stone from St. Stephens, and this led him to 
the spot where the stone was to be procured. 2 At all 
events, having made the important discovery, Cookworthy 
at once resolved to carry out his intention of making 
porcelain, and endeavoured to secure the material for 
himself. For this purpose he went to London to see 
the proprietors of the land, and to arrange for purchas- 
ing the royalty. In this he succeeded ; and ultimately 

1 Lord Camelford was the elder brother of William Pitt, Earl of 

2 Jewitt's Life of Wedgwood. 

176 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

Lord Camelford joined him in the manufacture of 
china. It appears from a letter from that nobleman to 
Polwhele, the historian of Cornwall, that the two ex- 
pended about 3000 in prosecuting the work. 

It may be mentioned that the Cornish clay resembles 
the Chinese kaolin. It is locally known as Growan. It 
is found in the granite of several districts ; sometimes 
it contains talc in place of mica, and is characterised 
by the partial decomposition of the felspar. The China 
clay or porcelain earth requires- to be carefully and 
constantly washed with running water, until it is 
perfectly white. It is afterwards consolidated, dried, 
and cut into oblong blocks, when it is sent to the 
nearest port and shipped to the potteries, there to be 
manufactured into china and the finer kinds of earthen- 

The materials from the kaolin of St. Stephens, said 
Cookworthy when speaking of his manufacture, " burn 
to a degree of transparency without the addition of 
Petunse. 1 Indeed, the materials from this place make 
a body much whiter than the ascatea, and, I think, full 
as white as the ancient china ware or that of Dresden." 
Cookworthy established himself as a china manufacturer 
at Plymouth, where the buildings, called "China House," 
are still to be seen. 

Cookworthy, being an experienced chemist, paid 
much attention to the production of a good blue. He 

1 The fine clay used by the Chinese with the kaolin, in their manu- 
facture of porcelain. 


Cookworthy at Plymouth 177 

was the first in this country who succeeded in manu- 
facturing Cobalt blue direct from the ore. Some of the 
articles he produced were beautifully modelled from 
nature such as salt-cellars, pickle -cups, and toilet 
pieces, in the form of shells and corals. The china 
manufacture was tolerably successful in Cookworthy's 
hands, but it was very expensive. Coal being very 
dear, only wood was used for the heating of the kilns. 
And wood, too, was very costly. 

The ware manufactured by Cookworthy at Plymouth 
consisted of dinner services, tea and coffee services, 
vases, mugs, jugs, trinket and toilet stands, busts, single 
figures and groups, animals, flowers, birds, madonnas, 
and various other figures copied from foreign models. 
But however beautiful Cookworthy's works were, as we 
have said, they were by no means profitable. After a 
few years, Cookworthy took out a patent for the 
manufacture of a " kind of porcelain newly invented by 
himself, composed of moor - stone or growan, and 
growan clay." The patent was dated the 17th March 

Cookworthy was resolved to make his porcelain 
equal to that of Sevres and Dresden, both in body 
(which he himself mixed) and in ornamentation. For 
the latter purpose he procured the services of such 
artists as were available; and with the assistance of 
M. Saqui from Sevres, an excellent painter and 
enameller, and Henry Bone, a native of Plymouth, he 
was enabled to turn out some very beautiful and 


1 78 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

excellently painted and enamelled specimens of 
Plymouth porcelain. 

Cookworthy shortly after removed his works to 
Bristol, in order to be nearer the coal. There he 
carried on the manufacture of porcelain, but under 
considerable difficulties. He still continued to lose 
money. He and one of his partners, Lord Camelford, 
lost about 3000 in the prosecution of the under- 
taking. Cookworthy was about seventy years old when 
he resolved to give up his manufacture. With the 
willing consent of his partners, he made over, in May 
1.7*74, the business and his patent rights to Eichard 
Champion of Bristol; Cookworthy only reserving for 
himself a share of profit from the China clay used 
in the works. 

In order to extend the period of the patent right, a 
petition was presented to Parliament in February 1775, 
applying for an Act to extend the term of Cookworthy's 
patent for a period of fourteen years. The potters of 
Staffordshire strongly opposed the extension of the 
patent. Josiah Wedgwood was appointed their leader. 
He was opposed to patents generally. In the case of 
the growan clay of Cornwall, he was of opinion that the 
extension of commerce, and especially of earthenware 
and china, depended upon the free use of the various 
raw materials which were the natural products of the 

Notwithstanding Wedgwood's opposition, and the 
pamphlets and cases which he published against the 

xv Champion at Bristol 1 79 

extension of patent rights, the bill passed the House of 
Commons, through the influence of Edmund Burke, 
almost unaltered. But when it reached the House of 
Lords, Lord Gower and several other noble lords having 
met and specially considered the bill, determined to 
oppose it. The result was the introduction of two 
clauses the first making it imperative on Champion to 
enrol anew his specification of both body and glaze 
within four months, and the second throwing open the 
use of the raw materials for potters for any purposes 
except the manufacture of porcelain. These modifica- 
tions, though limited, proved of much advantage to the 
Staffordshire potters. 

Champion spared no pains or expense in turning 
out the best quality of work, and he succeeded in pro- 
ducing an excellent body and a remarkably fine glaze. 
He produced some truly exquisite specimens of porce- 
lain, both in design, in modelling, and in painting. But 
the Bristol manufactory was by no means a success. 
In about two years after obtaining the Act of Parlia- 
ment, Champion closed his works, and sold his patent 
right to a company of Staffordshire potters. They were 
men of good standing, and carried on their works at 
New Hall, Shelton. Champion himself removed for a 
time into Staffordshire. He then emigrated to South 
Carolina, United States, where he died. 



THE introduction of the manufacture of china ware into 
Staffordshire was mainly due to the exertions of Josiah 
Wedgwood, in taking means for throwing open the use 
of the raw materials found in Devonshire and Corn- 
wall to manufacturers of pottery in every part of the 

In order to make personal inquiries as to the places 
where growan stone or growan clay was found in 
Devonshire and Cornwall, Wedgwood resolved in 17*75 
to make a journey into the south-western counties of 
England. He was accompanied by Mr. Turner, one of 
the earthenware manufacturers of Lane End ; as well as 
by Mr. T. Griffiths, who was to be their agent, should 
it be found necessary to leave him behind them. 

" As the country was new to me," says Wedgwood 
in his Commonplace Book, " I took a few short minutes, 
in the chaise, of the various appearances of the country 
we passed through, which afforded a little amusement 
at the time, and may serve perhaps as an agreeable 

CHAP, xvi Wedgwood's Journey into Cornwall 181 

companion iii any future journey into the same 

The Memorandum Book and Commonplace Book, 
from which we select the following extracts, seem not to 
have been examined by any of Wedgwood's biographers. 
At least no notices of them have been published. Yet 
they are very curious documents, throwing considerable 
light upon the character of the great potter. Careful 
and cautious observation was his principal characteristic. 
The Commonplace Book gives, in his handwriting, a 
long account of the horse's foot ; he describes its sole, 
its treatment, its proper shoeing, and so on. 

He gives Mr. Smeaton's views on the expansion of 
metals; and Dr. Priestley's account of the different 
kinds of air. He records experiments on different kinds 
of cobalt ; with observations on glazes, clays, zaffre, and 
nickel ; and the method of producing various colours 
after firing. 

In his Memorandum Book, Wedgwood devotes whole 
pages to experiments on Thermometers. His object 
was to ascertain the principle of certain clays diminish- 
ing in bulk by fire; his trials were very elaborate. 
He tried various mixtures of clays, from red heat up to 
the strongest that vessels made of clay can support. 
He records that " some of the present Cornish porce- 
lain clays seem to be the best adapted, both for sup- 
porting the intensity and measuring the degrees of 
heat." Eventually, Wedgwood published the results of 
his experiments ; and he was elected a Fellow of the 

1 82 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

Koyal Society, while under the Presidency of Sir Joseph 

Wedgwood records many experiments " with a view 
to remedy the imperfections of flint glass for achromatic 
instruments." He published An attempt to discover 
the cords and waviness in Flint Glass, and the most 
probable means of removing them. He made many 
experiments on the artificial crystallisation of alabaster. 
Being always a close observer, he took up the study of 
geology. He could never be idle, even on his journeys 
from London to Etruria. 

In his Commonplace Book he records the geological 
strata between London and Birmingham ; as well as 
the nature and character of the vegetation through 
which he passed. At his own works he tested every- 
thing. He would not accept the dogmas of others, but 
observed for himself. He possessed great power as 
an organiser. He kept receipts, for reference, on all 
manner of subjects glazes, tinning of iron plates, 
varnish, plasters, and such like. He recorded in his 
Commonplace Book all the conversations of importance 
he had with distinguished persons legislators, artists, 
and men of science. The potters of Staffordshire 
looked up to him as their head. They appointed him 
their chairman, to watch over their interests in the 
commercial negotiation with foreign countries as well 
as at home. , 

To return to Wedgwood's driving tour into Cornwall, 
to ascertain the places where the growan stone or clay 

xvi Wedgwood's Journey into Cornwall 183 

was to be met with. No more agreeable journey could 
have been made. Such tours are out of date now. We 
rush rapidly through the country. The railway train 
passes through tunnels, deep cuttings, and the pass- 
enger sees little of the adjoining landscape. Wedg- 
wood and his party left London on the 29th May 1775. 
Their journey was through a beautiful country, and they 
made their observations as they passed along. They 
went through Guildford to Farnham; then into a 
richly cultivated country, through Blackwater village, 
over heaths and through woods, with charming resi- 
dences in sight. 

" It is impossible," says Wedgwood in his notes, 
" to pass through those finely varied scenes, and com- 
fortable haunts of men, without wishing to spend more 
time amongst them than these hurrying chaises will 
permit. . . . The fine picture is like a panorama ; it is 
all round us woods of every character, lawns, chases, 
farms, and hop-gardens." The towns and villages 
passed through were Hartley Bridge and Hartley Eow 
(a venerable -looking village) ; Morrel Green, where 
there was a good inn, and they rested; Newnham, 
where a view was taken opposite the church ; then to 
Basingstoke, celebrated for its siege during the Civil 
Wars ; the Downs then opened upon the travellers 
" a noble feast " ; they passed Stockbridge and Old 
Sarum, and slept at Salisbury. 

In passing through Wiltshire, Wedgwood was sur- 
prised by the numerous remains of the dwellings, en- 

184 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

trenchments, tumuli, and graves of the Ancient British. 
All round the great plain of Salisbury were the remains 
of these ancient people ; and in the centre of the plain 
was Stonehenge, their great sacrificial temple. On the 
Downs were camps and entrenchments. At Chatties 
Doun, near Charborough, there were tumuli to the 
right and left. At Whitchurch, an old camp was seen 
on the side of a hill, and two barrows were observed 
close to the road. There were short barrows and long 
barrows the former being the more ancient raised 
over the dead, long before the invasion of the Eomans. 

The party of travellers passed on to Dorchester a 
station of the Eomans, as its name indicates. But 
before the Eornan invasion the place seems to have 
been of importance. There is a round Amphitheatre 
near the town, capable of containing some twelve 
thousand spectators. Some think it to be Eoman, but 
others suppose it to be Ancient British, as it closely 
resembles the British " rounds." But the most remark- 
able monument of the Ancient British is Maiden Castle, 
a few miles south-west of Dorchester, one of the finest 
and largest old camps in England. The outworks enclose 
an area of forty -four acres, and three lofty earthen 
ramparts surround it on the south. At Bridport, on 
the west, says Wedgwood, " every hill seems to have its 
camp." The barrows were innumerable. At Slatt " the 
first rock stone was seen." 

The travellers passed through Stapleton, where there 
were "plenty of orchards," Charmouth, Axminster, 

xvi Wedgwood 's Journey into Cornwall 185 

Off well, and Honiton celebrated for its lace. No carts 
or waggons were to be seen here ; everything was 
carried on horseback. Then Exeter was entered, "a 
lovely neighbourhood." Passing on through other 
villages, Wedgwood went to see a potwork at Bovey 
Tracey. He discusses the difficulty of making pottery 
at that place, where the coal was bad and the workmen 
were clumsy. He describes the beauty of the country 
at Ivy Bridge. At a place called Eidgeway, Wedgwood 
first saw the Petunse or Growan Stone. 

At Plymouth Wedgwood visited an old friend, Mr. 
Tolcher, who had sent him some specimens of cobalt. 
The party visited Mount Edgecumbe, and in a letter to 
Bentley (1st June 1775) Wedgwood thus describes it : 
" We were upon the water several hours yesterday 
afternoon. Have you ever seen Mount Edgecumbe ? 
If you have not seen Mount Edgecumbe, you have 
seen nothing. We sailed twice past the terrestrial 
paradise, and such a sun-setting I have never beheld." 

The travelling party could not long remain at 
Plymouth, and on the 2nd of June they set out in 
search of the Growan. They went by Burland Downs 
and Eubarrow Downs, when Growan Stone was again 
seen. They crossed the stream of water brought to 
supply Plymouth by Sir Francis Drake. As they pro- 
ceeded into Cornwall, they had some difficulty in 
understanding the dialect of the people. At Kettington 
they found the farmers ploughing with oxen. Barrows 
were still plentiful. At Liskeard the landscape views 

1 86 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

were splendid. Then they entered Boconnoc Down, 
near Lostwithiel. The estate of Boconnoc belonged to 
Mr. Pitt, afterwards Lord Camelford, elder brother of 
the Earl of Chatham, who was born here. Here we 
must quote from the notes of Mr. Wedgwood : 

" We now come to Mr. Pitt's seat, which is extremely 
rural and retired. We found him at home, and he 
took us a walk before dinner, down a sweet valley, 
with hanging woods on either side, and a clear purling 
stream below. . . . When we came to a fine old beech 
tree in the bottom, by the side of the brook, the roots 
of which were visible in various folds above the surface, 
Mr. Pitt laid himself down and repeated those fine lines 
from Gray's Elegy written in a country churchyard : 

" There at the foot of yonder nodding beech, 

That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high, 
His listless length at noon-tide would he stretch, 
And pore upon the brook that babbles by. 

" The dinner bell awoke us from our agreeable reverie, 
and raised in us sensations of another kind, which we 
made haste to satisfy. After being entertained at Mr. 
Pitt's hospitable mansion for a few hours, with great 
hilarity and classic elegance, we parted in high good 
humour, and proceeded on our journey." 

Wedgwood proceeds to describe the neighbourhood of 
Lostwithiel as " a charming country, full of fine hills and 
fruitful valleys, an arm of the sea running up between 
a chain of hills, which altogether conspire to compose one 

xvi Wedgwood's Joz^rney into Cornwall 187 

of the finest scenes a traveller can wish to pass through." 
They were now in the midst of the Growan Stone 
district. Near St. Austell they found large quantities, 
and observed the white kaolin obtained by washing 
from the raw materials. They also went to St. Stephens, 
where the Growan Stone was prepared to supply the 
Bristol porcelain manufactory. At St. Columb they 
went to see the collection of Mr. Soper, apothecary, 
a very intelligent man, but they were disappointed. 
Earths, stones, and clays were too mean to find a place 
in the museums of Cornish collectors. 

At Truro the travelling party witnessed what they 
considered an extraordinary sight. Wedgwood thus 
relates it : " In one of our walks through the town we 
met a very numerous procession of females, all dressed 
out in their best garments. We were much struck 
with such a troop of young women marching in regular 
order. We inquired as to the cause of the procession, 
and were told that it was the annual meeting of two 
female clubs, who had associated for the same purpose 
as men do in this and other parts of the island that 
is, to lay by a little money whilst they are in health 
and can spare it, to receive it again in time of sickness. 
I am sorry I cannot say much in favour of the beauty 
of the fair sex. Indeed, there were scarcely three faces 
in the two clubs that were tolerable." 

At Redruth Wedgwood found Growan clay in great 
abundance, and of a very white colour. He obtained 
some specimens for experiment, believing the clay to 

1 88 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

be of the right sort. Being so near the Land's End, 
he and his companions determined to visit it, but the 
two chaises containing them were almost swamped by 
the drenching rain before they reached Penzance. On 
the 6th of June they went to the Land's End, about 
three miles distant. Grow an clay was found on the way. 
A large quantity had been shipped from Penzance for 
Bristol and South Wales, where it was used for fur- 
naces. It was not white enough to be used for the 
manufacture of porcelain. 

At the Land's End, says Wedgwood, " we gazed for 
some time, with a kind of silent awe, veneration, and 
astonishment, at the immense expanse of ocean before 
us. It was indeed sublime. The weather was clear 
enough to enable us to see the Scilly Isles, about nine 
leagues distant. After a long and exciting view, we 
left the spot. It was with a transport of joy that I 
now set my face homewards towards Etruria." 

The travelling party, however, did not go directly 
homewards. Wedgwood having still to make inquiries 
as to the white clay which he had heard was in the 
neighbourhood, they started again from Penzance, and 
journeyed westward. They saw Marazion (or Market 
Jew), crossed the sands, and climbed up to St. Michael's 
Mount. From the summit of the castle they had a 
magnificent view, landwards and seawards. They 
descended and went to Ludgvan, then higher up to 
Treasso, higher still to Castle Andennis, in search of 
white clay, which they eventually found, with the help 

xvi Wedgwood's Journey into Cornwall 189 

of Mr. Edwards of Treasso. They then passed Wheal 
Prosper, and obtained some of the white clay on Lord 
Godolphin's property. Samples of the various clays 
were obtained for the purpose of future experiments. 

Being near the Lizard, they made a detour to see 
that wonderful geological formation. It is unneces- 
sary to detail their visit to Kynance Cove, on the 
west shore of the bay, and Cadge with, on the east. 
The Lizard, observes Wedgwood, " was an extra- 
ordinary sight." But he was here on business as well 
as pleasure. He made inquiries as to the soap rock 
on Lord Falmouth's property, which at that time was 
leased to the Worcester China Company. However, 
several other landlords had soap rock on their property, 
and Wedgwood took some specimens away "in a 

From the Lizard they returned by Kedruth and Truro, 
examining for soap rock all the way. On the 10th of 
June they found a farmer, a Mr. Trethaway, who 
possessed a little estate adjoining Mr. Pitt's manor, and 
Wedgwood agreed with him for a lease. To use his 
words : " The farmer said he would lease us the stone 
and clay on the estate for so many years. He asked 
twenty guineas a year rent. I offered ten. He accepted 
it, and we had articles of agreement drawn up accord- 
ingly by Mr. Carthew, an attorney in St. Austell. This 
gentleman, when the business with Trethaway was 
finished, offered us more of the same materials on the 
same terms, or to sell us twenty or thirty acres of land 

Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

with them in, on our own terms. We ordered some of 
his materials to be sent to us, and when we have tried 
them we are to write him on the subject." 

" Having now completed our business in Cornwall, 
by having got a firm and secure hold of the raw 
materials upon reasonable terms, we left Mr. Griffiths, 
our agent, to conduct the business. We left St. Austell 
after dinner, and slept that night at Liskeard, and the 
next day we set Mr. Tolcher down at his own house at 
Plymouth. The old gentleman was in general cheerful 
and good company, but notwithstanding his age (he 
was in his eighty-seventh year) he had a good deal of 
the spoilt child in him, for if he had not his own way 
in everything there was no peace with him, either in 
the chaise or at the inns. . . . But when we came to 
Plymouth, he talked so much of accompanying us into 
Staffordshire, that I believe a single invitation would 
have brought him with us. 

"Mr. Tolcher enjoys a remarkable share of health 
and spirits for a man of his great age, and nothing 
flatters him so much as telling him how young he 
looks, and how many years he may yet expect to live. 
Indeed, he used to say that he had no notion of dying : 
he did not think he should die, for he had never felt 
anything like it yet, having never had a day's sickness 
in his life ; but he added, ' Neither have I ever been 
once intoxicated with spirituous liquors.' " 

While at Plymouth, Wedgwood took another look at 
Mount Edgecumbe, which he so much admired. He 

xvi Wedgwood's Journey into Cornwall 191 

also examined the Isle of St. Nicholas, or Drake's Island, 
a strongly -fortified rock at the entrance of the river 
Tamar ; the harbour, the docks, the ships, the hospital, 
and whatever there was to be seen. He went to the 
Hoe to enjoy the unrivalled view from that lofty 
promenade. But time pressed, and Wedgwood must 
hasten back to Etruria. Yet he desired to see so much 
that was novel on his way homeward. Instead of 
returning to London, he went northward through 
Wellington, Taunton, Bridgewater, and Glastonbury in 
Somerset. Nothing pleased him more than the cathe- 
dral city of Wells, the fine old cathedral with its 
precincts and other buildings constituting a perfectly 
unique English city. 

Wedgwood went northward through Bath and 
Gloucester, calling upon his friend Boulton at Bir- 
mingham on his way home, and thus finishing a very 
pleasant and profitable journey. He was of course 
received with joy and welcome by his loving wife and 
family at Etruria. He had long arrears to make up 
with his boys and girls, to whom he was deeply 
attached. We have already referred to his affection for 
his devoted wife, who not only cherished him during 
illnesses, but conducted his correspondence while he 
was unable to attend to his ordinary business. 

We may refer to some of his written intercourse 
with his children. When in London, on one occasion, 
he wrote a long history of an imaginary journey to the 
metropolis to his "Dear Kitty." It was entitled 

1 92 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

" A short history of a long journey to London, from a 
Papa in Town to his good child at home." The history, 
which is written in the style of a loving father to his 
playful child, separated from her by several hundred 
miles, extends to six chapters in length. Some of it 
is very interesting. Not less interesting were his 
communications with his boys, over whose education 
he watched, encouraging them, and assisting them with 
his immense information. We may quote one of his 
letters to his eldest son John, or as his father called 
him " Dear Jackey." The boy was at school at Bolton 
in Lancashire in 1774, and his father enclosed with the 
following letter a long and minute account of "The 
Natural History and Uses of Lead" in its various 
forms : 

" My dear Boy Having a parcel to send to your 
good master, I take the opportunity of enclosing a few 
lines to you, well knowing that you will be glad to hear 
that your mamma, your brothers and sisters are well, 
and continue their good will and affections to you. 
Your brothers often talk of you, and seldom omit 
drinking your health at dinner. Joss wants much to 
go to school with his brother Jackey, that he may 
learn to read, and learn so many things out of books 
which he is very earnest to know, but finds there is no 
other way of gaining the knowledge he wants but by 
becoming a scholar and reading and studying for him- 
self ; for, if he prevails upon his cousin Jackey or anybody 
else who is at leisure, to read a little for him, they are 

xvi Wedgwood's Journey into Cornwall 193 

no sooner got into the midst of an entertaining story, or 
something he wishes to learn, but they are called away to 
other business, and leave him unsatisfied and distressed : 
' Oh ! I wish I could take up the book and read the 
story out myself, papa ! ' But finding he is not able to 
do this at present, and being convinced that a little 
application will enable him to read for himself, he is 
determined to be more attentive to his learning, to 
say double lessons, and, if it were possible, to overtake 
even his brother Jackey in scholarship. I do not know 
how this may end, but am persuaded he will find it no 
easy matter to overtake one who is so active and steady 
at learning, as I am told you are. 

" I suppose you have received two samples of red ore, 
with some flowerpots, etc. I sent you the ores, and 
now send you some account of them, because I find you 
are attentive to what I told you of them, and of some 
other natural bodies, and because I wish you to know a 
great deal of some things and not be quite ignorant of 
anything you may meet with in your journey through 
life. You must therefore begin to learn early; but 
more of this in some future letter. Believe me, 
my dear boy, your truly affectionate father, Joss 

We may mention the number of the Wedgwood 
family. Susannah, the eldest, was born 3rd January 
1765. John, 28th March 1766. Eichard, llth July 
1767, but died in June 1768. Josiah, 3rd August 1769. 
Thomas, 14th April 1771/ Catherine, 30th November 


1 94 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP, xvi 

1774. Sarah, 25th September 1776. Mary-Anne, 18th 
August 1778, but died in the following April. 

No one loved children more than Wedgwood. As 
his wife was a model mother, so was he a model father. 
Though often engrossed by business, he was always 
true and faithful to his children, who were all alike 
in his eyes and heart ; each receiving their share of his 
affection. He was firm yet tender. He gave them his 
love, and they repaid him with their obedience. As the 
boys grew up into men, and the girls into women, he 
was proud of their handsome presence and their 
intellectual attainments. 

Wedgwood was most careful as to their training and 
education. There were governesses for the daughters, 
and tutors for the sons. One of the tutors who resided 
for some time in Wedgwood's family, was John Leslie, 
afterwards Professor of Natural Philosophy in the 
University of Edinburgh, one of the most distinguished 
scientific men of his age. Wedgwood, with his usual 
liberality, conferred an annuity of 150 on John Leslie 
for the careful instruction he had given to his sons. 
It is not improbable that Leslie's investigations into 
light and heat had some influence in determining 
Thomas Wedgwood's studies, and leading him to become 
the inventor of heliotype in other words, of photo- 
graphic science, before Daguerre turned his attention 
to the subject. 



WEDGWOOD was fortunate, as well as wise, in associating 
with himself, in the production of his wares, perhaps 
the greatest sculptor whom England has as yet pro- 
duced. Born on the 6th July 1755, John Flaxman 
entered life with no special advantages. His father 
sold plaster of Paris casts in New Street, Covent 
Garden, and afterwards at a little shop in the Strand. 

The boy was very weakly, and slightly deformed 
from his birth. As he grew in years, he used to sit in 
a little stuffed chair behind his father's counter, over 
which he could just see ; and there he read and made 
drawings in black and white from the casts before him. 
When customers came he got down from his seat and, 
with the help of crutches, went to the shelves and 
selected the required articles. 

Flaxman's mother died when he was seven years 
old. His father married again, but his stepmother was 
very kind to him, as much so indeed as his own mother 
had been. The customers who came to the shop took 

196 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

an interest in the invalid boy. One of the most 
benevolent was the Eev. Mr. Matthew, a man of fine 
taste, who took an interest in art and artists. " I went," 
said Mr. Matthew, " to the shop of old Flaxman to have 
a figure repaired, and whilst I was standing, I heard a 
child cough behind the counter. I looked over, and 
there I saw a little boy seated on a small chair, with a 
larger chair before him, on which lay a book he was 
reading. His pure eyes and beautiful forehead interested 
me, and I said, ' What book is that ? ' He raised him- 
self on his crutches, bowed, and said, ' Sir, it is a Latin 
book, and I am trying to read it.' ' Ay, indeed ? ' I 
answered ; ' you are a fine boy ; but this is not the 
proper book, I will bring you a right one to-morrow.' I 
did as I promised, and the acquaintance thus casually 
begun ripened into one of the best friendships of my 

The book the boy had before him was a Cornelius 
Nepos, which his father had picked up for a few pence 
at a bookstall. Next day Mr. Matthew called with 
translations of Homer and Don Quixote, which the 
boy proceeded to read with avidity. He even went 
about Hyde Park, with the help of his crutches, trying 
to find some distressed damsel whom he might proceed 
to deliver from bondage, by the help of his little French 
sword, which he had girded about him; but in vain. 
There was no Dulcinea del Toboso, or forlorn damsel, to 
be found even in Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens. 

He was more fortunate with Homer. His mind 

xvii Wedgwood and Flaxman 1 9 7 

became filled with the heroism which breathed through 
its pages, and the ambition took possession of him that 
he too would design and embody in poetic forms the 
majestic Ajaxes and Achilleses. He began to draw and 
model in plaster of Paris, wax, and clay. Of course his 
first designs were very crude, though some of them are 
still preserved. After he had become famous, a friend 
asked him how he had accomplished these early works. 
" Sir," said he, " we are never too young to learn what 
is useful, or too old to grow wise and good." 

When he arrived at his tenth year, his health 
improved. His limbs gained strength, he began to 
move about more freely and was able to throw away 
his crutches. He continued to model figures as before, 
and rapidly" improved. Mr. Matthew not only patron- 
ised him, and gave him commissions, but also invited 
him to his house, where he made the acquaintance of 
some artists, amongst others of Eomney, Stothard, and 
Blake the poet - painter. Mrs. Matthew and Mrs. 
Barbauld were amongst his advisers and counsellors. 
They encouraged him to read Greek and foreign 
languages. He repaired to Mrs. Matthew's house in 
the evenings, to hear her read Homer and Virgil, and 
discourse upon Latin verse and sculpture. While she 
read Homer, Flaxman by her side endeavoured to 
embody in drawings such passages as caught his fancy. 
This was, as he afterwards said, one of the happiest 
periods of his life. 

He obtained from Mr. Crutch ely what was to him 

198 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

an important commission, for a set of drawings 
illustrative of Homer. These were executed to 
Crutchely's satisfaction, and Flaxman's commissions 
soon increased. Friends now foretold his future emin- 
ence as a designer and sculptor. At eleven years old, 
and again at thirteen, he won prizes from the Society 
of Arts for his models of figures in clay. At fifteen he 
exhibited models at the Koyal Academy, then in the 
second year of its existence. In the same year, 1770, 
he entered as an Academy student and won the silver 
medal. Next year, he tried for the gold one, the 
reward of the highest merit. 

All his fellow-students made sure that the assiduous 
and enthusiastic Flaxman would win the prize. Perhaps 
he himself was too cocksure of the result. But Sir 
Joshua Eeynolds, the President, adjudged the gold 
medal to another student called Engleheart, who was 
never afterwards heard of. Flaxman, however, was not 
discouraged : he knew he deserved the prize, and 
the defeat, such as it was, merely roused his courage. 
" Give me time," he said to his father, " and I will yet 
produce works which the Academy will be proud to 

Flaxman thought his defeat was due to the slight of 
Sir Joshua. But perhaps he was too vain of his powers. 
This would appear from a letter of Wedgwood's to 
Bentley (14th January 1775) : " I am glad you have 
met with a modeller, and that Flaxman is so valuable 
an artist. It is but a few years since he was a most 

xvn Wedgwood and Flaxman 1 99 

supreme coxcomb, but a little more experience may 
have cured him of this foible." This allusion to Flax- 
man no doubt refers to his defeat by Engleheart at the 
Academy. Although Wedgwood thus referred to the 
sculptor, he very soon became one of his most attached 
and generous patrons. Bentley was the first who dis- 
covered Flaxman, most probably through the introduc- 
tion of the latter to him by Mrs. Matthew and Mrs. 
Barbauld, as they all belonged to the same religious 

Wedgwood proceeded to order some works from 
Flaxman. The first was a model for a Chimneypiece, 
two models for Vases, four Bas-reliefs of the Seasons, 
and several models of the ancient gods and god- 
desses Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, Apollo, and others. 
His charges were not great : 3 : 3s. for the pair of 
vases, one with a Satyr and the other with a Triton 
handle ; 2 : 2s. for the four Bas-reliefs of the Seasons ; 
1 : 15s. for an antique Vase sculptured with figures ; 
and 10s. for each of the ancient gods and goddesses. 
2 : 2s. was paid for two statues, and 8s. 6d. for two 
cups and saucers. These works were done in March 
and April 1775, and the whole were paid for amount- 
ing to 12 : 18s. in January 1776. 

Some may think it a descent for a draughtsman and 
sculptor like Flaxman to have designed for Wedgwood 
such common things as cups and saucers. But it was 
not really so. An artist may be a true educator in 
taste while designing a common teapot or water-jug. 

2OO Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

Articles in daily use amongst the people, which are 
before their eyes at every meal, may become the 
vehicles of art education to all, and minister to their 
highest culture. Before Wedgwood's time, the designs 
which figured upon our stoneware and china were often 
hideous. He determined to improve both designs and 
ornamentation ; and Flaxman willingly and cheerfully 
endeavoured to carry the manufacturer's views into 
effect. The subjects of his art were principally small 
groups in low relief, from ancient verse and history. 
Some of them were equal in beauty and simplicity to 
his finished designs for marble. 

Young Flaxman continued to ply his art diligently, 
both as a draughtsman from his father's stock-in-trade, 
as a student in the schools, and as an exhibitor at the 
Eoyal Academy. One of the friends of the Matthew 
family a Mr. Knight of Portland Place gave him a 
commission to make a statue of Alexander the Great in 
marble. Flaxman designed the figure in clay, and 
Smith executed the work in marble. The statue was 
exhibited, and met with considerable praise. 

But Flaxman could not make a regular livelihood by 
accepting such commissions. He had to rely princi- 
pally upon the income which he derived from Wedg- 
wood. For many years we find him modelling classic 
friezes, plaques, vases, ornamental vessels, and medallion 
portraits of distinguished men, in various combinations 
of Jasper and Basalt. In July 1*7 75, we find Wedg- 
wood requesting Flaxman to model the portraits of Sir 

xvii Wedgwood and Flaxman 201 

Joseph Banks and Dr. Solander. Hoskins, Grant, 
Hack wood, and Mrs. Landre were modelling at the 
same time. Though Hackwood's portraits were ex- 
cellent, Flaxman's were considered superior, because 
of their artistic value. This was especially the 
case in the Greek heads and the classical designs 
after the antique. Some of these were so exquisite, 
that Wedgwood had a great difficulty in parting with 

" Some Anthonies and Cleopatras are very fine," he 
wrote to Bentley (5th November 1775), " and a few 
bas-reliefs, all of which I wish you to look at before 
they go into the rooms [for sale]. The blue grounds 
are out of the last kiln, and the Cleopatras, both of 
which are the finest things imaginable. It really hurts 
me to think of Carting with these gems, the fruit of 
twenty years' toil, for the trifle we shall receive, to make 
the business worthy of our notice." 

The new body called Jasper, because of its likeness 
to the stone of that name, was first used in November 
1775. It was composed of a mixture of flint, potters' 
clay, carbonate of barytes, zaffre, sulphate of barytes, 
and Terra ponder osa. Wedgwood kept this combination 
very secret. To Bentley he wrote : " I have tried my 
new mixing of Jasper, and find it very good. Indeed 
I have not much fear of it ; but it is a satisfaction to be 
certain, and I am now absolute in this precious article, 
and can make it with as much facility and certainty as 
black ware. Sell what quantity you please. I would 

2O2 Josiak Wedgwood CHAP. 

as readily engage to furnish you with this, as any 
pottery I make. We have only now to push it forward 
with the world and keep our secret." Of his large and 
very fine Medusa, he wrote to Bentley, " it is too fine 
to sell." He had always the greatest difficulty in part- 
ing with his beautiful bas-reliefs. 

In this Jasper ware Flaxman executed some of his 
finest and most classical works, and helped forward the 
enterprise of his munificent patron. Flaxman con- 
tinued to exhibit at the Royal Academy, several 
models in clay from the ancient Greeks and Eomans, 
some portraits in wax, and a sketch for a monument to 
Chatterton and to make drawings and designs from the 
poets, from the Bible, and from the Pilgrim's Progress. 
He led a quiet, simple life, though he was always full 
of pleasant occupation. 

Flaxman, feeling himself sufficiently enriched by the 
remuneration he received from Wedgwood, removed 
from his paternal roof towards the end of 1781 ; leaving 
there his father, the seller of plaster of Paris casts, and 
his brother William, a frame-maker and wood-carver, 

Flaxman hired a small house and studio at 27 
Wardour Street ; and there he brought home his young 
wife, Ann Denham by name, whom he had long loved. 
He was then twenty-five years of age. Some thought 
it foolish of him to marry without any secured means, 
but it proved to be the greatest joy and blessing of his 
life. Ann Denham worshipped her young, cheerful, 
and accomplished husband. This was a good begin- 

xvn Wedgwood and Flaxman 203 

ning. She had a taste for art and literature, under- 
stood French and Italian, and had acquired some 
knowledge of Greek. She was, nevertheless, a good 
domestic manager. She arranged her husband's draw- 
ings, and encouraged and cheered him in his occasional 
moments of despondency. 

Some time after their marriage, Sir Joshua Keynolds 
happened to meet Flaxman in the street. " Ha ! " said 
the President, " I have heard you have married." " It 
is true," replied Flaxman. " Then," said Sir Joshua, " I 
tell you, you are ruined for an artist. You cannot now 
go to Borne and study the works of the great sculptors 
of antiquity." " I am sorry for that," said Flaxman, 
who returned home somewhat dispirited. He sat down 
beside his wife, took her hand, and said with a smile, 
" Ann, you have ruined me for an artist." " How is 
that ? " she asked. " It happened," replied Flaxman, 
" in the church, and Ann Denham has done it. I met 
Sir Joshua Reynolds just now, and he said my marriage 
had ruined me in my profession." 

It is possible that Sir Joshua bore a grudge against 
Flaxman, for what reason is not known. He had 
adjudged the gold medal for sculpture to Engleheart, 
when every other artist thought that it should have been 
awarded to Flaxman. Sir Joshua was the first portrait 
painter of his day, but he knew comparatively little 
about sculpture. Hence his spiteful remark to Flax- 
man, that he had ruined himself as an artist by marry- 
ing Ann Denham. His wife, as usual, consoled him. 

2O4 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP- 

"You will e'en go to Kome," she said, "and I will 
accompany you." " But how ? " asked Flaxman. " We 
must work and economise," was her answer. 

Flaxman accordingly set to work with increased 
vigour. He was willing to do anything, so as to earn 
the necessary money for the purpose of enabling him 
to make the journey to Eome. He even undertook to 
collect the watch rate for the parish of St. Anne, and 
was occasionally seen going about with an ink-bottle in 
his buttonhole collecting the rates. He worked harder 
than ever for Wedgwood. Cameos, intaglios, busts, 
portraits, plaques of all kinds, proceeded from his fertile 
brain and hand. Amongst the other works he pro- 
duced were the Apotheosis of Homer, the Muses with 
Apollo, the Dancing Hours, Priam begging the body of 
Hector from Achilles, Julius Csesar, Fauns, Bacchantes, 
the Nine Muses, and other works. Wedgwood was as 
proud of the Muses as Flaxman himself. He styled 
Flaxman " the Genius of Sculpture." Several beautiful 
tablets for chimneypieces were also produced by him. 
In fact, never did Flaxman work harder than at this 
period of his life. 

He worked for others besides Wedgwood. He began 
to make monuments to the departed. His first was in 
memory of a man of genius similar to his own that of 
Collins, the poet, for Chichester Cathedral. Another, 
of a still higher order, was that of Mrs. Morley for 
Gloucester Cathedral. The lady perished with her 
child at sea, and she is represented called up by angels, 

xvn Wedgwood and Flaxman 205 

with her babe, from the waves, and ascending into 
heaven. "The effect," says Allan Cunningham, "is 
inexpressibly touching; it elevates the mind, and not 
without tears." Another of his monuments was in 
memory of Miss Cromwell, in illustration of the passage 
" Come, ye blessed." 

Of a very different character was the group of Venus 
and Cupid, which he executed for his early patron, Mr. 
Knight of Portland Place. Flaxman preferred it to his 
monumental figures. Besides these works of sculpture 
were his numerous drawings, mostly after the antique, 
a large collection of which is still carefully preserved 
at the University College, Gower Street. 

It is believed that Flaxman, before his marriage, 
visited Wedgwood at Etruria. The room is still shown 
in which he did his work. In one of Wedgwood's 
letters to Bentley, dated from Etruria (1st July 1778), 
Wedgwood says : " Mr. Flaxman called to tell me that 
he was modelling a bas-relief of Lord Chatham in order 
to sell copies in wax. I told him that we should be 
glad of a cast, and he knew what we should make of it. 
I do not know what he means to charge other people, 
but you know we are to pay a price below casts and 

During the year 1779, on Flaxman's return to 
London, he was engaged upon some of his most 
beautiful models, such as his Boys and Goat, his 
Triumph of Ariadne, his Homer and Hesiod, his Offering 
to Flora, and his Bacchanalian Sacrifices for a chimney- 

206 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

piece tablet. He also modelled his own likeness in 
wax, and a copy was sent down to Etruria for the 
purpose of being transferred into the jasper body. 
Flaxman took the greatest pains in beautifying the 
commonest objects of utility. His inkstands, chimney- 
pieces, candlesticks, seals, tureens, vases, lamps, cups, 
and teapots were most artistic. 

It is not improbable that Flaxman was consulted by 
Wedgwood during his temporary stay at Etruria about 
the decoration of his house. On his return to London, 
he wrote the following letter to Wedgwood : 

"No. 27 Wardour Street, 12th November 1781. 
Sir As soon as Mr. Byerley [Wedgwood's agent in 
London] communicated to me your workmen's want of 
the drawings at large for the cornices, etc., in the saloon 
and vestibule, I began them immediately to prevent 
delay ; but as some of the mouldings will be enriched 
in a manner not very likely to be well executed by a 
country plasterer from a drawing only, I will, if you 
please, send two or three patterns cut in plaster for 
ostrich eggs and dock water leaf, etc. 1 

"You will probably have an ornamental frieze for 
the saloon ; if that is not already determined on, I 
would recommend the lions and foliage you admired 

1 The hall at Etruria has been converted into the offices of the 
Shelton Bar Ironworks. Besides the cornices designed by Flaxman 
the ceilings were ornamented by drawings in Oil by Angelica Kaufmann. 
These were removed by the agents of the Duchy of Lancaster, to whom 
the place belongs, to one of their offices in the North, probably in 

xvn Wedgwood and Flaxman 207 

so much in the chinmeypiece I am carving for Mr. 
Knight, and particularly because you will have a new 
production without the expense of a new model. In 
the meantime I shall proceed diligently with your 
drawings until I have further instructions, the expedi- 
tion of which will add to the favours conferred on, sir, 
with great respect and gratitude, your much obliged 
servant, JOHN FLAXMAN, jun. 

" My wife joins with me in hopes for the health and 
happiness of Mrs. Wedgwood and your family." 

Wedgwood had been so much indebted to Sir William 
Hamilton, Ambassador to the Court of Naples, for his 
casts from the antique, discovered during his researches 
at Herculaneum, and for his fine collection of Etruscan 
vases, that when Flaxman had finished his Apotheosis of 
Homer, he offered to send Sir W T illiarn one of the 
finest copies of the tablet. On receiving it, he replied 
as follows (Naples, 22nd June 1779) : " I have had the 
pleasure of receiving safe your delightful bas-relief of 
the Apotheosis of Homer, or some other poet. Indeed, 
it is far superior to my most sanguine expectation. I 
was sure that your industry would produce in time 
something excellent in the way of bas-reliefs from the 
specimens I saw before I left England, but I really am 
surprised and delighted in the highest degree with this 
proof of the hasty strides you have made towards per- 
fection in your art. I only wish you may continue to 
meet the encouragement which you so richly deserve. 
. Your bas-relief astonishes all the artists here. It 

208 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

is more pure, and in a truer antique Taste than any of 
their performances, though they have so many fine 
models before them." 

For twelve years of his life, from his twentieth to 
his thirty-second year (1775-1787), Flaxman principally 
subsisted through his employment for the firm of Wedg- 
wood and Company. He did some of their most exqui- 
site works, for which they paid him liberally. His 
portraits included those of Benjamin Franklin and Dr. 
Johnson ; the latter is said to be one of the finest ever 
perfected by Wedgwood. In 1781 he finished two 
busts of Eousseau and Sterne, and modelled a bust 
of Dr. Fothergill. In the following year (1782) he 
modelled a very fine bust of Mrs. Siddons, and finished 
the cast of a fragment of Phidias. In that year he had 
the two sons of Wedgwood as pupils ; but Flaxman, 
because of the munificence of Wedgwood, did not desire 
to receive any remuneration for the lessons he gave 
them. A correspondence took place on the subject. 
Flaxman's first letter was as follows : 

"27 Wardour Street, 8th July 1782. Sir As you 
desire a list of the orders you have given me, which 
are not yet completed, I have taken the liberty to 
trouble you, as I should be deficient in gratitude to 
your Liberality and Friendship if I permitted you to 
receive them by any other means, especially as my 
absence whilst you were in London requires an apology. 
This I could not avoid, because the time was appointed 
that I should settle some particular chimneypieces for 


Wedgwood and Flaxman 209 

a friend who is going to rebuild his seat in Berkshire, 
and I thought to return before your departure. Mr. 
Byerley required me to set a value on my instructions 
to the young gentlemen, which I cannot comply with, 
because I fear in so short a time they could not profit 
much, and because I shall be well satisfied with what- 
ever you think sufficient for those lessons, which were 
thirty- three in number. Mr. Byerley also observed 
that it would be agreeable to you for me to employ my 
leisure on your work. This he need not have men- 
tioned, for I surely cannot do better than employ my 
small abilities in the service of so worthy a friend. 

"I would have sent the drawing for the frieze of 
your saloon, but I do not remember that you determined 
on any design; so that, when I have received your 
instructions, I will either send sketches for your appro- 
bation, or a drawing from any idea you may communi- 

"With this letter I have sent the size of Sir J. 
Banks's tablet. Before I conclude I must beg, as soon 
as you have set a price on the ostrich's egg teapot in 
the fine white bisque, that you will let me have one, 
which my wife intends presenting to a lady at Cam- 
bridge. Mrs. Flaxman desires your acceptance of her 
best wishes ; and with mine, for the happiness of your- 
self, Mrs. Wedgwood, and the young lady and gentle- 
man, I remain, your much obliged servant, JOHN 
FLAXMAN, jun. 

" P.S. The orders are, six wax medals of eminent 

2io Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

Hollanders, which I am now working on, and intend 
soon to finish. 

" Psyche on a Flower-Pot a companion to Venus 
Adolescens. Several bas-reliefs of boys for teapot sides, 
and the wax profiles of several distinguished persons 
these last to be done as opportunity shall permit." 

It is not known what remuneration Wedgwood sent 
to Flaxman, but the latter seems to have been greatly 
pleased with it in his letter of the 22nd August 1782. 
This letter is very valuable as authenticating as Flax- 
man's work the magnificent bust of Mercury, after- 
wards produced by Wedgwood : 

"27 Wardour Street. Sir I would have thanked 
you for the princely present you gave me for the few 
instructions your sons had from me before now, if thanks 
had been adequate to such generosity, but their only 
rewards are the elevated reflections arising from such 
actions themselves. I did not therefore write until I 
had prepared a small token of gratitude two small 
reliefs of Jupiter and Mercury, which you may copy 
in your excellent bisque* for your manufactory if you 
think them worthy. You did me the honour to praise 
my bust of Mercury, the cast of which you will favour 
with a place in your study, as one of the highest grati- 
fications you can bestow on its sculptor. 

"As I know your kindness interests itself in my 
welfare, I have the pleasure to inform you that I am 
nobly employed in modelling four Cristos, large as life, 
and a group of four figures from this passage in the 

xvii Wedgwood and Flaxman 211 

prologue to Henry ike Fifth, ' Then should the warlike 
Harry, like himself, assume the port of Mars, whilst 
Famine, Sword, and Fire (leashed in like hounds) crouch 
for employment at his heels.' 

"My wife and self desire our best compliments to 
Mrs. Wedgwood, Miss, and the young gentlemen ; and I 
have the honour to remain, sir, your most obliged and 
humble servant, J. FLAXMAN. 

" P.S. I am much obliged to you for the order given 
that the egg teapot should be delivered to me, but the 
gentleman who officiates for Mr. Byerley says it will 
not hold water ; so that I shall be glad if you will let 
rne have one as soon as more are made, as Mrs. Flax- 
man has deferred writing to her friend for some months 
with intention to send a teapot at the same time." 

Flaxman was perhaps happiest in his beautiful 
designs of children romping, skipping, playing blind- 
man's-buff, and other groups of them. Flaxman, ad- 
dressing Wedgwood from Wardour Street, October 28th, 
1782, writes: "According to the desire you expressed 
in the last letter you favoured me with, I have designed 
some groups of children proper for bas-reliefs, to deco- 
rate the sides of teapots. Nos. 1 and 2 are intended 
to go entirely round a teapot of a flat shape, except 
where the handle and spout interrupt them. I have, 
therefore, made separate stories for each side. The 
first is Blindman's - Buff ; the second is the Game of 
Marbles. Nos. 3 and 4 are the Triumph of Cupid, to be 
disposed in a similar manner on the sides of round and 

212 Josiak Wedgwood CHAP. 

upright teapots. When you return the sketches to be 
modelled from, be pleased to give instructions concern- 
ing the size and other necessary particulars. Mrs. 
Flaxman presents her respects to Mrs. and Miss Wedg- 
wood and yourself, and I have the honour to remain, 
sir, your obliged servant, JOHN FLAXMAN." 

In 1783-84 Flaxman was engaged in various works 
for W r edgwood, principally in chimneypieces and por- 
traits. The marble chimneypieces were charged from 
8 : 11 : 6 to 11 : 4s. ; but the masonry, polishing, and 
carving were charged nearly double. Among the por- 
traits were those of Herschel, Dr. Buchan, Captain Cook, 
and C. Jenkinson. In 1784 he modelled a bas-relief of 
boys in wax, for which he charged 11 :0 : 6. Flax- 
man was also busy with the models of the celebrated 
Chessmen. The following letter relates to the decora- 
tion of Wedgwood's drawing-roorn at Etruria : 

"Ward our Street, 5th February 1784. Sir I was 
last night honoured by Mr. Byerley with your inquiry 
concerning the pictures you employed me to paint for 
the drawing-room ceiling. 1 The four Divinities' heads 
for the corners have been nearly finished, and the 
Allegory for the centre has had the effect roughly laid 
in some months since, and would have been entirely 
completed long before this, but that I waited for your 
opinion on them, as you were expected in town almost 

1 It would appear from this letter that Flaxman painted some of the 
figures on Wedgwood's drawing-room, besides Angelica Kaufmann, as 
explained in a previous note. 

xvii Wedgwood and Flaxman 2 1 3 

daily for some time past. However, I have now sent 
two of the Corners and Centre, accompanied with the 
difficulties I am under, for your contemplation and 
decision. I think, when you have fastened them with 
pins in their places, and considered the effect, you will 
find either the heads are too large for the Centre, or 
that the figures in the Centre are disproportionately 
small for the heads. If you think the heads have a 
proper effect, and are not too large when seen in their 
proper places, I must reduce the number of figures in 
the centre, and place them upright in the long way of 
the oval, retaining the allegory; or make them Genii 
children telling the same story ; by which means also 
the whole will have a better proportion. If you think 
the figures in the centre of a proper height and the 
heads too large and heavy, I will alter the Corner to 
whole figures of children (Genii) sitting with the same 
attitude the heads have now ; and in this case I shall 
reduce the number of figures in the centre to show the 
outlines more distinctly, like paintings on the Etruscan 
vases, as this manner has the best effect. When you 
have determined these matters and sent back the paint- 
ings, they shall be finished with all possible despatch. 

" I wish you may soon come to town to see Sir 
William Hamilton's Vase (Barberini or Portland Vase). 
It is the finest production of art that has been brought 
to England, and seems to be the very apex of perfec- 
tion to which you are endeavouring to bring your 
Bisque and Jasper. It is of the kind called ' Murrinan ' 

214 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

by Pliny, made of dark blue glass with white enamel 
figures. The vase is about a foot high, and the figures 
between five and six inches, engraved in the same 
manner as a cameo, and of the grandest and most per- 
fect Greek sculpture. 

" Since I repaired the bust of Mrs. Siddons after 
moulding, a friend of mine, J. B. Burgess, Esq., of Bed- 
ford Square, has been very desirous to purchase it, to 
set it with the model of Mercury and several other 
models he has of mine. As you have the mould of the 
model, I think it cannot be of much use. To let Mr. 
Burgess have it will oblige him, and be of some little 
advantage to me. You may depend on this, no other 
use will be made of it than being placed in his study, 
and if I have your permission to sell it to him, I shall 
take off half my charge for it in your bill. 

" I return you many thanks for the liberal praise you 
bestowed on my Chess-figures ; and with best and most 
respectful wishes to Mrs. Wedgwood and your family 
from Mrs. Flaxman and myself, I have the honour to 
be, sir, your most obliged servant, J. FLAXMAN." 

Mr. Wedgwood answered the above letter as follows : 
" Etruria, 20th February 1784. Dear Sir I duly re- 
ceived your favour of the 5th inst., with the observations 
you were so kind as to make upon the paintings for 
my drawing-room ceiling, stating some difficulties you 
were under, and desiring my decision upon them. 

" The two heads of Divinities, and a sketch of the 
Allegory for the centre, came to my hands last night. 

xvn Wedgwood and Flaxman 2 1 5 

I have hastily looked them over, but am obliged to put 
them by for the present, having neither time to consider 
them, nor the hints you give me in your letter, with 
the attention they deserve. When I can take them up 
again I will write you further. Mr. Byerley will tell 
you something of my situation. 

" I can only add that you have my free consent, as it 
will so much oblige your friend Mr. Burgess, to let him 
have the bust of Mrs. Siddons ; the mould will serve 
my purposes. I am much obliged to you for the infor- 
mation you give me respecting Sir William Hamilton's 
fine Vase, and promise myself an exquisite treat when 
I do come to town, but the time is at present unavoid- 
ably uncertain. 

" We are getting forward with the Chessmen, and 
hope soon to send a complete set to Greek Street. Mrs. 
Wedgwood and my young folks unite in most respectful 
compliments to Mrs. Flaxman and yourself, with, dear 
sir, your faithful and obedient servant, Jos. WEDG- 

Our next document is an account from William 
Flaxman (John's brother), the frame-maker and wood- 
carver, for frames supplied, amounting to 35 : 6 : 6, 
the principal item being 27 for frames supplied to 
Master Thomas Wedgwood for Mr. De Loutherberg's 
pictures. Flaxman informed Wedgwood in the follow- 
ing year of the new works he is preparing for Etruria. 

"Wardour Street, 20th October 1785. Sir Mr. 
Byerley favoured me with your orders concerning the 

216 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

three tablets, i.e. two of Hercules and his companions 
in the Hesperian Gardens, and Coriolanus's mother 
persuading him to return to Rome. The figures in 
the print are 4f th inches high, and I have modelled my 
figures 5|th inches, which allows one-seventh for 
shrinking in the bisque*. I should be greatly obliged 
to you for information if you would like to have the 
other tablets modelled in the same proportion. With 
respects to Mrs. Wedgwood and family, I have the 
honour to be, etc. J. FLAXMAN, jun." 

Besides these works, Flaxman designed a bas-relief 
of the Birth of Achilles, and a matchless bronze vase, 
called by Wedgwood a " Bronze Encaustic," in imita- 
tion of real bronze ; both of which were greatly ad- 
mired. The next letter relates to his other works. 
Flaxman also furnished (12th December) a Bas-relief 
in wax of Venturia and Volumnia entreating Corio- 

" Wardour Street, 13th December 1785. Sir I am 
concerned that I could not send this Bas-relief sooner, 
upon which I have been chiefly obliged to work at 
night ; and now and then I have taken a day for some 
large monuments I have in hand, which are in great 
haste. I hope, however, on comparing this model with 
that of Homer and Hesiod, you will find it very supe- 
rior. I shall take great pleasure in modelling Hercules 
in the Hesperian Gardens ; and I think I can make it 
equal to Sir William Hamilton's Vase. If you are willing, 
I should do my utmost, but then I cannot set an exact 

xvn Wedgwood and Flaxman 217 

price on it until it is finished. I should also be par- 
ticularly obliged to you for instructions respecting the 
thickness. If it might be done as thin as the work on 
the before-mentioned vase, it would be more perfect, and 
the blue ground might show through the thin parts of 
the drapery, which several Artists and other Persons of 
taste have remarked to me is a great advantage where 
it can be done ; but if it must be thicker, you will be 
so kind as to let me have a pattern. Your answer when 
leisure will permit will add to the obligations already 
conferred on, sir, your much obliged and humble ser- 
vant, J. FLAXMAN, jun." 

Wedgwood's next letter to Flaxman related to the 
designs for the famous plaques which the sculptor was 
preparing, to represent Peace between England and 

" Etruria, 2nd November 1*786. Dear Sir I should 
have returned you the enclosed drawing with a few 
lines upon it before now, but have been to visit a sick 
friend at Buxton, which, with other necessary matters, 
has taken up almost the whole of my time since my 
return home. 

" Nothing in my opinion can more properly or more 
forcibly express the ideas we wish to bring forward 
than the group of figures you gave me, and which I 
now enclose ; but as it will be necessary to have them 
divided into two parts, in order to have a pair of me- 
dallions, that circumstance will call for a little altera- 
tion in the disposal of the figures. The three middle 

218 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

figures will make one medallion, which I will call 
No. 1. The burning of the implements of War, and the 
figure of Peace, must then form another group for 
medallion No. 2. 

" Montfaucon in his Antiquities (vol. i. part ii. p. 
349), speaking of the manner in which Virtue is repre- 
sented, says, ' In Gordiano virtus Augusti exprimi- 
tur per Herculem exuvias leonis gestantem et clavae 
innexum.' I have got Mr. Webber to sketch me this 
Hercules to represent Virtue, and the implements of 
war sacrificing upon an altar sacred to Commerce ; but 
this is not meant by any means to preclude any altera- 
tion or better mode of expressing the same thing, which 
will probably occur to you. I only mean to make a 
separate group for my own convenience, and leave it to 
you to make that group what you please. 

"We must take care not to show that these re- 
presentations were invented by an Englishman ; as 
they are meant to be conciliatory, they should be 
scrupulously impartial. The figures, for instance, which 
represent the two nations, should be equally magnificent 
and important, in their dress, attitude, character, and 
attributes ; and Mercury should not perhaps seem more 
inclined to one than to the other, but show a full front 
face between them, and if you think there is no 
impropriety in it, I should wish France to have her 
helmet and shield as well as Britannia, and the fleur 
de lis upon the latter. 

"The figures must be modelled 8 inches high, 

xvii Wedgwood and Flaxman 219 

and you know upon this occasion expedition is of great 
consequence, so I will detain you no longer than whilst 
I beg your pardon for this exercise of your patience, 
and that you will believe me, with compliments to 
Mrs. Flaxman, dear sir, yours, etc. Jos. WEDGWOOD. 

" I have some doubt of Hercules being a proper re- 
presentation of Virtue. A female figure may perhaps be 
better, but this is left to your better judgment, J. W." 

In 1785, Flaxman had finished his drawings of 
the Chessmen, had modelled the King of Sweden, a 
portrait of Governor Hastings, and designed Mr. and 
Mrs. Meerman's portraits. During the two next years, 
he was mainly occupied with the plaques, some of 
which embodied his finest works. There was Mercury 
joining the hands of England and France ; and Peace 
preventing Mars from bursting the door of Janus's 
Temple. He also finished the bas-relief of Hercules in 
the Gardens of the Hesperides, and he was now able to 
mention the cost of the work, which was 23. In 
the following letter, Flaxman refers to two of these 
designs : 

"Wardour Street, 12th January 1787. Sir I 
have the honour to trouble you with my bas-relief of 
Mars and Peace, which I hope you will like. I have 
sent the model without any mould, because I ap- 
prehend, on second thoughts, your people will make a 
model better and fitter for your purpose than I can; 
and it will be some advantage for them to see the taste 
of finishing before it undergoes that operation; which 

220 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

will be attended with no more difficulty than the two 
last wax models I sent, the casts from which were 
made at your factory. I am going on with the other 
bas - relief and the chimneypiece. I return my 
grateful thanks for the kind inquiries after Mrs. 
Flaxman, who desires her respectful compliments to 
Mrs. and Miss Wedgwood and yourself, together with, 
sir, your most obliged servant, J. FLAXMAN." 

This is the last letter I possess, from Flaxman to 
Wedgwood, before the former left London for Eorne. 
I find that Wedgwood paid Flaxman, between July 
1773 and August 1787, 196 : 15 : 8 at different times. 
These sums included Flaxman's drawings and models, 
together with mason's charges, packing-cases, bookings, 
and such like. After Flaxman, with the help of his 
economical wife, had accumulated sufficient means to 
enable them to set out on their journey, they left 
London in the autumn of 1787. Flaxman could now 
look back upon the time when he showed his drawing 
of a human eye to Mortimer, who asked, " Is that an 
oyster ? " ; to the refusal of Sir Joshua Eeynolds to 
award him the gold medal, because he preferred his 
inglorious opponent Engleheart ; and also to Sir 
Joshua's still more recent censure upon Flaxman that 
he was " ruined for an artist," because he had married 
Ann Denham. And now Flaxman was setting out 
for Eome, accompanied by his wife, to show, in the 
sculptor's own words, " that wedlock is for a man's 
good rather than for his harm." 


Wedgwood and Flaxman 221 

Wedgwood furnished Flaxman with letters of intro- 
duction to his friends at Eome. To Micali of Leghorn 
he wrote as to the bill of lading of Flaxman's chest, 
" It is the property of Mr. Flaxman, an artist of this 
country, and a much valued friend of mine, who is 
going to make some residence in Italy. . . . Whatever 
expenses may be incurred, you will please charge to 
my account, and favour me with a line of advice." 

Flaxman and his wife went by Paris, and stayed a 
few days there. He was visited by the Due de Bouillon, 
who gave him a few commissions for Wedgwood. The 
travellers went forward to Eome, and arrived there 
safely. Wedgwood's eldest son, accompanied by Webber, 
was in Eome at the time of his arrival, and visited him 
frequently. Flaxman continued to do work for Wedg- 
wood. Many letters may have passed between them ; 
but the first I possess is dated 24th December 1788, 
about a year after his arrival in Eome. In that letter 
Flaxman says : " I am concerned you have not received 
the wax model of the Prince of Piedmont's portrait. 
... It was sent in Mr. J. Wedgwood's baggage, with 
the snuff-box from which it was copied. ... I am 
finishing a bas-relief restored from the antique, of the 
birth of Bacchus, for Mr. Wedgwood." Flaxman also 
sent a finished model of Mercury from Eome; and 
another of Shakespeare. 

Canova had the greatest respect and admiration for 
the works of Flaxman. He made an express visit from 
Venice to Eome for the purpose of seeing and making 

222 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

the acquaintance of the English sculptor. It was on 
this occasion, says the Magazine of Art, that he made 
his well-known apophthegm as to the English method of 
judging ; for when asked by one of the fashionable 
celebrities who buzzed about him in swarms, to what 
circumstance they were indebted for the honour of his 
visit, he told him he had come to see their sculptor 
Flaxman. " Flaxman ! " replied the magnate, " we think 
very little of him here." "You in England," said 
Canova, "judge through your ears, and not by your 

While at Rome, Flaxman had much intercourse 
with Mr. Deveare, one of Wedgwood's designers and 
agents. He was a man of much ability. In a letter 
to Byerley, London, written in the spring of 1788, 
Flaxman says : " When you write to Mr. Wedgwood, 
you will be so kind as to inform him that Mr. Deveare 
has been at work with the utmost diligence, ever since 
he has been here, on the bas-relief of the Borghese Vase, 
in which he has succeeded very well, but it will still 
take him some weeks to finish, and after he has done 
I also shall have something to do with it. Mr. Wedg- 
wood will easily concur, as this is new work to Mr. 
Deveare, that he must needs be slow at first, especially 
as he takes so much pains." 

Whilst in Rome, Deveare (afterwards, when he came 
to Etruria, known as John de Vere) did his work in Flax- 
man's studio, and thus his modelling was open to the sug- 
gestions and improvements of the English sculptor, who 


Wedgwood and Flaxman 223 

was never wanting in his praise. Thus, in the following 
year, Flaxman informed Wedgwood that " Mr. Deveare 
had finished the bas-relief of Proserpine in the most 
beautiful manner." Wedgwood returned his thanks to 
Flaxman in the most cordial manner, especially for 
Deveare's model of the Discovery of Achilles. In the 
meantime Flaxman mostly worked at the statues and 
monuments, for which purpose he had come to Home. 
He continued his drawings after the ancient classics, 
always showing his fine sense of the harmony of com- 
position; he executed his illustrations of Homer, 
^Eschylus, and Dante, saturating his fancy with the 
spirit of the days of old. After spending several years 
in Home, he returned to London, where he was duly 
recognised as the greatest sculptor of his time. 

We have already given some account of the relation 
between Flaxman and Deveare in regard to the bas- 
reliefs. We now give another, and the last, letter from 
Flaxman to Wedgwood : 

" Eome, 20th January 1790. Sir During my resi- 
dence here, I have troubled you with two or three short 
letters, chiefly relating to Mr. Deveare, and as I shall 
leave this place in less than three months it is necessary 
for me to add another, that everything relating to him 
as far as concerns me may be settled before my depart- 
ure. Mr. Deveare and myself felt particular uneasi- 
ness at the information contained in your two last 
letters, that the two last bas-reliefs he sent to you 
were so much broken and spoiled. We both earnestly 

224 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

hope the damage is not irreparable, but if it is, and was 
my concern, I should certainly desire your permission 
to make the loss good, and I am sure Mr. Deveare will 
be as desirous to do this as myself. When he packed 
the first bas-relief I superintended him, and saw that 
it was packed in the same manner with those I have 
sent from London to Etruria. I saw the second packed 
in the same manner ; but for the third and fourth I do 
not remember seeing them packed, or if I did, my mind 
has since been engaged so much on other objects that 
it has escaped my memory, yet Mr. Deveare assures 
me they were packed exactly in the same manner as 
the first, except as to the width of the paper, and there- 
fore I am at a loss to account for the misfortune. 
However, we have determined on a method for packing 
for the future which cannot fail to convey your work 
safely, unless the packing-box itself should be broken 
to pieces. In addition to the directions for packing 
given in your two last letters, which shall be carefully 
attended to, the box itself shall be well wrapped in 
straw, and tightly sewed in coarse cloth. I likewise 
desired Mr. D. to propose in his letter to you, 
that he should mould the work he does for you, and 
send the mould by another ship, or keep the mould 
until he receives advice from you of the safe arrival of 
the model, when it shall be immediately destroyed. 
This scheme was suggested by me merely for your 
security, and you will of course accept or reject it as 
shall seem most convenient. 


Wedgwood and Flaxman 225 

"The bas-relief of the Discovery of Achilles which 
Mr. D. has just finished (of which he has enclosed 
a sketch in his letter, and which only waits your 
instructions to be sent to England) is, in my opinion, 
a sufficient evidence of his attention and improvement. 
We fixed on this subject for its beauty and expression, 
and notwithstanding the original is much mutilated by 
time, Mr. D.'s copy is full of the sentiment of the 
fine antique, and some parts particularly are so well 
executed that it would be difficult to exceed them. 

" As I shall quit Eome in so short a time, I must 
beg your attention to the following particulars. There 
is a clause in the agreement between you and Mr. 
Deveare which stipulates that his weekly salary shall 
be raised the second year of his engagement, and that 
it shall be again raised the third year, on condition that 
you shall be satisfied with his studies and productions. 
I wish it were possible for you to see his last work 
immediately, which would enable you to decide with 
more certainty ; but as this cannot be, you must rely 
partly on the truth of my representation, and for the 
rest judge from what you have seen. It is very 
certain that the expense of Mr. D.'s journey was a 
considerable sum, entirely owing to you, and it is also 
certain that your expense in each of the works he has 
done has been very great ; but it is equally certain that 
no man can be more industrious or zealous to improve, 
that he had a new profession to study, and I believe, of 
the bas-reliefs he has sent to England, the last will 



226 Josiah Wedgwood 

always be found the best, and least expensive in pro- 
portion to the labour. You will favour me with your 
determination on this subject, which I shall communi- 
cate to Mr. D. ; and whatever it may be, I am sure 
he will consider it as proceeding from that justice 
and generosity which he has already so amply ex- 

"Mr. Deveare desires me to inform you that he 
should be willing to continue his present employment 
for you in Eome after the expiration of his agreement, 
upon the following conditions : that he will take up no 
money on his work until he delivers the bas-reliefs into 
the hands of Mr. Jenkins for conveyance to England, 
that he will then receive half the payment of his time, 
that he will send the account of his time with the work 
to you, and he will then for the remaining moiety 
receive so much as you, upon inspection, shall think 
the labour deserves. 

" I shall conclude my letter with a few words con- 
cerning myself. I hope the choice of subjects which I 
have given to Mr. Deveare is such as will do no 
discredit to your bisque, and will please the discerning 
connoisseur. They are at least such as I should have 
chosen for myself. I had the double desire of doing 
that which would be agreeable to you, and at the same 
time of serving Mr. Deveare in such small matters as 
these. Only I have been his friend ; it is you that 
have been his patron and his essential friend, and he is 
sensible of his obligations. 

xvii Wedgwood and Flaxman 227 

" I am concerned that I have not entirely finished 
the bas-relief of the Birth of Bacchus, which I began 
for you so long ago. It is nearly finished. I shall 
bring it to England with me, and about three weeks 
after my arrival will end it. The studies I have made, 
so absolutely necessary to my improvement, one con- 
siderable work which I have finished, and another I 
am engaged in, have engrossed my time and thoughts. 
You will, I am sure, be well convinced that I ought to 
lose no time or opportunity, whilst I remain here, for 
furnishing my mind with information for my future 
employment. My career here now draws towards a 
conclusion. I have refused some considerable business 
that I might not be detained longer than the time I 
had appointed, from my friends and country ; and with 
the permission of God we shall see each other in June 
next. Mrs. Flaxman unites with me in respectful 
remembrance and best wishes to yourself, Mrs. Wedg- 
wood, and all your family. We also beg our loves to 
our good friends, Mr. and Mrs. Byerley, and are im- 
patient to see them, as well as our other friends. I 
have the honour to remain, sir, your much obliged 
friend, JOHN FLAXMAN, jun." 



HAVING already occupied so much space with the 
history of Flaxman and his work for the great potter, 
it is necessary that we should return to the personal 
history of Wedgwood himself. 

For him there was no finality in the development of 
his profession. It was not enough that he had achieved 
success. He went forward with improvements on what 
he had already done, and his fame steadily grew. His 
works at Etruria became a point of attraction to numer- 
ous visitors from all parts of Europe. 

"The importance of the manufacture which he 
brought to so prosperous a state/' says Marryat in his 
History of Pottery and Porcelain, "is proved by the 
fact that, although many of the states of Europe had 
prohibited the admission of British earthenware, and 
others had loaded it with very high duties, five-sixths 
of the quantity which he made were exported ; and his 
earthenware cameos were so esteemed by foreigners 
that they were eagerly purchased by them, and may be 

CHAP, xvni Wedgwood at Work again 229 

found in many cabinets abroad, amidst the most 
splendid specimens of Sevres and Dresden porcelain. 
Wedgwood succeeded completely in giving to hard 
pottery the vivid colours and brilliant glaze which, 
until that period, had been seen only upon porcelain. 
His ware was sold at a price, too, which brought it 
within the means of general consumption, both at home 
and abroad." 

It may also be added that the beautiful set of Chess- 
men, designed by Flaxman, were the first in modern 
times executed in pottery. The author of the article 
" Flaxman," in the ninth edition of the Encyclopaedia 
Britannica, observes that the extreme refinements of 
figure, outline, and modelling, which "Wedgwood aimed 
at in his ware, were not the qualities best suited to 
such a material ; or it might be regretted that the gifts 
of one of the greatest figure-designers who ever lived 
should have been employed in such a minor and half- 
mechanical art of household decoration ; but the beauty 
of the product it would be idle to deny, or the value of 
the training which the sculptor by this practice acquired 
in the delicacies, the very utmost delicacies, of modelling 
in low relief, and on a minute scale. 

But the sculptor, in his early days, must necessarily 
support himself and his noble wife by his earnings from 
those who had the courage and munificence to employ 
him. Besides, his drawings after the ancient Greeks, 
and his practice in modelling figures for Wedgwood's 
plaques, and his designs of playful children with which 

230 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

he ornamented the teapots and other wares, were but the 
earnests of his future career as the greatest sculptor of 
his time. The remarkable series of drawings published 
through the enterprise of Mr. F. Eathbone a worshipper 
of Wedgwood x and executed by M. F. Appel of Paris, 
under the title of Old Wedgwood, the Ceramic Relief 
Art of the Eighteenth Century, will serve to show 
what an influence the sculptor's early practice, as well 
as the munificent potter's enterprise, had upon advanc- 
ing the art of the century he lived in. The drawings 
consist of vases, plaques, medallions, portraits, intaglios, 
and cameos, produced by the famous potter during the 
years between 1760 and 1795. Not satisfied with his 
knowledge of English, Wedgwood was learning French. 
He also proceeded with his study of chemistry, botany, 
drawing, designing, and conchology. He endeavoured 
to get to the bottom of everything. His knowledge 
and apprehension involved the entire study of natural 
science. And the results were seen in the admirable 
works which he executed. " My tablets," he said in 
one of his letters, " only want age and scarcity to be 
worth any price." This prophecy proved entirely true. 
While occupied with his plaques, cameos, seals, and 
ornamental teapots, Wedgwood did not neglect his 
useful ware, which was the foundation of his prosperity. 
The Queen patronised his beautiful pearl-white tea- 
ware, which soon became popular. Her Majesty also 
visited Wedgwood's collection of works in Greek 

1 The Drawings are published by Mr. Quaritch, Piccadilly. 

xvm Wedgwood at Work again 231 

Street on IDth June 1779. " I thank Her Majesty," 
wrote Wedgwood to Bentley, " for the honour she has 
done to the pearl-white, and I hope it will have due 
influence upon her loyal subjects. The Dishes to 
complete the service have gone to-day." On the follow- 
ing day Wedgwood wrote to Bentley, "The box sent 
last night contained a head of the Queen and another 
of the King." 

But most important of all was the new composi- 
tion of Mortars, which Wedgwood, with his complete 
knowledge of clay, contrived for the use of the apothe- 
caries of Great Britain, and indeed of all the world. 
He had been accustomed to supply Dr. Priestley with 
crucibles and retorts before he left Leeds, and they 
were now in considerable demand by philosophers and 
chemists in this and foreign countries ; but the intro- 
duction and general use of his mortars came later in 
his life. At first, the surface of the mortar blistered ; 
but by constant experiments he entirely obviated this 
great defect. By the use of Cornish clay he was 
enabled to make the entire mortar and pestle perfect. 
Wedgwood's invention was taken up at the Apothe- 
caries' Hall, and from the tests which they withstood 
there, his mortars and pestles acquired a fame which 
has lasted to the present day. 

These were happy years for Josiah Wedgwood : 
there were lights and shadows, as there must be in every 
life, but in the main he was prosperous in every respect ; 
his chief joy was in his wife and children, whom he 

232 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

dearly loved. Bentley, in London, had been very un- 
well, and "Wedgwood advised him to take a ramble. 
Have you got a horse ? he asked, " for a good horse, with 
its consequences, are first-rate blessings. . . . Sukey 
(his eldest daughter) is now very well, and pretty strong, 
which I attribute very much to her riding on horseback. 
We sally forth, half a dozen of us, by six or seven in 
the morning, and return with appetites scarcely to be 
satisfied. Then we are busy with our hay, and we 
have just made a new garden. Sometimes we make 
experiments, then read and draw a little, so that 
altogether we are very busy folks. . . . Sukey is quite 
out of patience with her old spinet, until her new one 
arrives, with its double keys. . . . My girl is quite 
tired out with her miserable hum-strum ; it takes half 
her master's time to put it in tune." 

Wedgwood told Bentley that he spent his holidays 
with his boys at home. It must have been a happy 
family. He regretted that he could not go to London 
having a bad cold and could not accept Bentley 's 
invitation to smoke a pipe with him at Turnham Green. 
Bentley had removed to that quarter of London, 
against the advice of Wedgwood, who thought it too 
low, and too near the river. Wedgwood continued 
happily engaged with his boys at home. They were 
very busy with chemistry and chemical combinations. 
To Bentley he wrote (17th March 1779) : 

" We want nothing just now, my dear friend, but a 
little more time ; and in that article we find ourselves 

Wedgwood at Work again 233 

greatly limited. We husband what little portion is 
allotted to us with tolerable economy. We rise before 
the sun, often before daylight, and pursue our experi- 
ments until supper calls us away, and even some time 
after, and yet all is too little for the studies before us. 
The boys drink in knowledge like water, with great 
avidity, and quite to my satisfaction. Jack is very 
deep in chemical affinities, and I have no fear of his 
making a tolerable progress in the science, for it is 
much pleasanter to him than grammar! Indeed, I 
have some fears of the latter being neglected for his 
new study." Wedgwood gives in his letter some 
painted colours effected by Prussian lixivium, as being 
calculated to make the study pleasanter for young 
people, and easier to be stored up in the memory. 
Besides, Dr. Darwin and Mr. Walton (the lecturer on 
chemistry) quite approved of the method. 

In May 1779, Wedgwood had two family pictures 
modelled by Stubbs, the animal painter, in the following 
manner : "Sukey playing on her harpsichord with Kitty 
singing to her, which she often does ; and Sally and her 
younger sister on the carpet, in some employment suit- 
able to their ages. This to be one picture. The pen- 
dant to be Jack standing at a table making fixable air 
with his glass apparatus, and his two brothers accom- 
panying him. Tom jumping up and clapping his hands 
in joy and surprise at seeing the stream of bubbles rise 
up, just as Jack has put a little chalk to the acid. Joss 
with the Chemical Dictionary before him in a thought- 

234 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

ful mood, which actions will be descriptive of their 
respective characters." 

Stubbs painted another picture, including Wedgwood 
and his family, but no portrait of Wedgwood surpassed 
that by Sir Joshua Eeynolds, which is copied as the 
frontispiece to this book. Another portrait was painted 
by Wright of Derby, but that by Sir Joshua stands 

Wedgwood had two of his sons at Bolton, for educa- 
tion. He began to think that he was giving them 
education that would be of little use to them in after- 
life, and thought it would be better to give them some 
athletic exercises which would establish their health 
and improve their constitution. He consulted his 
devoted friend Dr. Darwin, who approved of his views, 
and thought it a very idle waste of time for the boys, 
who were intended for trade, to learn Latin, as they 
did not learn it to any tolerable degree, or retain 
what they learnt. Much better, he thought, that they 
should learn modern languages French and German 
as well as make them proficient in accounts. The boys 
were accordingly taken from the boarding school at 
Bolton, and sent to a school in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of Etruria. 

During these pleasant family meetings, Wedgwood 
was sedulously pursuing his own profession. He was 
in constant communication with Sir William Hamilton, 
who supplied him with casts from bas-reliefs and other 
antique subjects. Sir William in acknowledging his 

xviii Wedgwood at Work again 235 

bas-relief of the Apotheosis of Homer, a veritable 
masterpiece, said it was far superior to his most 
sanguine expectations. " I am really surprised and 
delighted," he said, "in the highest degree with this 
proof of the hasty strides you have made towards 
perfection in your art. . . . Your Bas-relief astonishes 
all the artists here ; it is more pure and in a truer 
antique taste than any of their performances, though 
they have so many fine models before them." 

Wedgwood was also devoting himself to portraits 
of distinguished men, living and dead. One of his best 
was his cameo medallion of Sir William Hamilton. It 
was crisp, sharp, and an excellent likeness. His 
portraits of the De Witts, Boerhaave, and De Kuyter. 
were greatly admired by the Dutch. Among the 
portraits which he executed were those of Dr. Priestley, 
his devoted friend; of Dr. Darwin, his admirer and 
physician ; of Dr. Johnson (modelled by Flaxman) ; 
of Admiral Keppel, an immense favourite ; of Prince 
William Henry (afterwards William IV.); of Dr. 
Franklin, the American philosopher ; and of John 
Philip Elers, one of Wedgwood's predecessors in the 
manufacture of Staffordshire earthenware. 

"We propose," Wedgwood wrote to Bentley, "to 
have more portraits prepared for sale abroad, such as 
Voltaire, Eousseau, Linnaeus, the King of Prussia, and 
the Hereditary Prince. The Italian poets by Flaxman 
may, perhaps, by undressing them, and putting their 
hair in order, be made fashionable. Among others in 

236 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

preparation are Peter the Great, Lord Bacon, Mr. and 
Mrs. Wedgwood ; Mr. Stubbs, the modeller of the 
tablets ; Edward Bourne, my old Bricklayer, a study." 

Wedgwood was also paying great attention to orna- 
mental chimneypieces, which were more eagerly bought 
up in Ireland than in England. He introduced his best 
compositions into those ornaments, which were truly 
works of art. His bas-relief medallions, from four to 
six inches in height, were of the highest class of 
workmanship ; they were simply beautiful. His life- 
size busts of distinguished men were admirable, and 
in great demand. 

Wedgwood wrote to Bentley in August 1778, and 
informed him what he was making for next year's 
exhibition. There are Dancing Hours for tablets or 
friezes ; Etruscan vases with Apotheosis of Homer ; 
Choice of Hercules, in different sizes ; Triumph of 
Bacchus, of the largest size, with attending Fauns ; the 
Sacrifice to Flora, new and large; the Sacrifice to 
Bacchus, new and very large ; and the Triumph of 
Ariadne, which was then in hand, together with other 
new works. 

" We cannot," he added, " master Achilles. I have 
had him demolished more than once, but he still rises 
again, the same heavy, unmeaning figure, and I rather 
think we shall be obliged to drop him, but not without 
another trial when opportunity occurs. We are under 
the same difficulty in attaining the character of the 
genii of Virgil in his bust, which is now modelling. . . . 

xvrii Wedgwood at Work again 237 

It has been twice finished to moulding, but not satis- 
factorily. I this morning (1st August 1779) resumed 
my old employment, took the modelling tools into my 
own hands, and made one side of the head, pretty near 
like the genii, and I will take another stroke at him 
this afternoon. I have opened his mouth, and I shall 
send him to you singing some of his own divine poems." 
It may be added that the head of Virgil was satis- 
factorily finished, and was regarded as one of Wedgwood's 
finest works. 

In the summer of 1779 Wedgwood made a friendly 
visit to Sir William Hamilton at his property at Blithe- 
field, near Lichfield. "His new room, he wrote to 
Bentley, "is hung round with Correggios, Eaphaels, 
Guercinos, Bassanos, and the works of many superb 
masters. . . . Amongst other great works of art Sir 
William particularly pointed out the chimneypiece to 
my attention, assuring me at the same time that he 
esteemed it the best piece in his room, and showed it as 
such to all his visitors. You know the pieces, Homer 
and Hesiod for the tablet, and the Muses for the frieze. 
The statuarist has done them justice, and they look 
charmingly, and do more than support themselves in the 
very fine company into which he has introduced them. 
... In looking at the tablet, I lamented a little chip 
off the edge, which misfortune, I suppose, had befallen 
it in the hands of the workman. We esteem it a happy 
accident, said Sir William, it shows the merit, the fine 
texture of the composition, which might otherwise have 

238 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

passed for a painted surface. My visit was a most 
happy one." 

Bentley, in a friendly way, complained of the length 
of Wedgwood's letters. They were so elaborate that he 
proposed to send him a condensing engine. Not less 
astonished was Mrs. Wedgwood with the enormous 
increase of his library. " My wife tells me I must buy 
no more books until I build another house. She also 
advises me to read some of those I already have, before 
I buy more," an advice that would suit many other 
librarians besides the great potter. 

Towards the end of 1779 Wedgwood went to Bolton 
to bring back one of his boys, whom he had sent to 
school again. He found the cotton districts in a state 
of turmoil. The workmen had struck and were going 
about breaking steam-engines and machinery. At a 
mill near Chowbent the mob were fired upon, and 
several were killed, but without much effect. A mob 
collected again, broke into a mill, and destroyed over 
10,000 worth of property. There was war abroad and 
war at home. Wedgwood considered the war with 
America disgusting. He was in great fear about the 
invasion of England by the French. " The docks and 
magazines at Plymouth might be destroyed. We are 
defenceless," he said. "It is all the fault of the 
Ministry : they are our worst enemies." 

Nevertheless he stuck to business. At the end of 
1779 he undertook the manufacture of earthen water- 
pipes, " first for London, and then for all the world. We 

Wedgwood at Work again 239 

will finish the bargain," he wrote to Bentley, " over our 
next pipe. Fifteen dozen brown ink-pots were packed 
for you yesterday." Wedgwood was now engaged in 
superior work. He was making gems and cameos for 
rings, bracelets, and tablets. They were greatly superior 
to everything of the kind before made. Indeed, no one 
had heretofore attempted to compete with him. To 
Bentley he said : " They appear so distinct and so 
pleasant to look at, with their coloured grounds. The 
whole assemblage of white, blue, gold, and black have a 
striking effect. . . . They are really a most liberal and 
noble collection of objects, very rare and most difficult 
to come at. The white Muses seem to me even finer 
things than those with blue grounds." 

A few days later Wedgwood said : " I am in a course 
of experiments for coloured grounds for the white 
figures, which shall take a polish and be like some fine 
natural stone. The bloodstone, if it can be accom- 
plished, will be admirable for the purpose." 

In the same year Wedgwood began to make China 
or Porcelain, having by this time secured a sufficient 
supply of kaolin from Cornwall. This was another step 
in his great enterprise. His traveller (Byerley) writes 
to his employer: "I have sold all your Garricks and 
Shakespeares, framed in black, at York. I could sell 
thousands of Keppels at any price. Oh! Keppel, 
Keppel ! Why will you not send me Keppels ? Next 

Wedgwood's sons were now attending the lectures of 

240 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

Mr. Walton on chemistry. Dr. Priestley's last discovery 
was described as not only quite new, but exceedingly 
interesting. Walton described the Doctor as "the 
Newton of the Age." Wedgwood made haste to have 
the model of Priestley's portrait finished, so as to supply 
the general demand. No doubt these studies of the 
young Wedgwoods ended in the discovery of photo- 
graphy, principally by Thomas Wedgwood. 

Wedgwood enters in his diary : " Much trouble, yet 
many blessings." One of the greatest of these troubles 
was the death of his dear friend Bentley, who had 
long been ailing, but no one thought of his illness 
as fatal. He was only forty-nine, comparatively a 
young, or at least a middle-aged man. Wedgwood was 
constantly telling him, when he felt unwell, to take a 
ramble somewhere. On the 30th of June 1780 the 
year of his death Wedgwood wrote to him : " Come to 
Etruria, I will willingly go with you to Buxton, Matlock, 
or any other place. ... I have blamed myself for not 
going oftener to Buxton. The air of that calcareous 
country is always grateful to my animal frame. The 
ride does me a great deal of good, and I generally excite 
some attention after my pots and pipkins, and draw 
some of the company after me to Etruria." 

Bentley, however, did not go to Buxton, but to 
Margate, for the benefit of the sea air. While there, 
Wedgwood requested him to collect some shells for 
him, as he had begun the study of conchology. Bentley 
sent him many select shells, which Wedgwood copied 

xviii Death of Bent ley 241 

on the ware which he afterwards made. Bentley after- 
wards went to Etruria with his wife, and spent a few 
pleasant weeks there, but derived no permanent benefit, 
for on his return to London he became worse than usual. 
Wedgwood had no idea that his partner was so ill, and 
continued his correspondence to the end. But to his last 
letter there was no reply. Bentley died on the 26th 
November 1780, at the age of forty-nine. 

There were universal lamentations at his death. 
Mr. Griffiths wrote to Wedgwood: "Turnham Green, 
25th November. My dear Sir Our poor friend yet 
breathes, but alas ! it is such breathing as promises but 
a short continuance. Almost every hope seems to have 
forsaken us ! I dread the thought of what will be the 
contents of my next ! Adieu. E. G." 

There is no record of the disease of which Bentley 
died. It may have been of apoplexy, as he often com- 
plained of his head. Wedgwood was on his way to 
Turnham Green when he heard of his friend's fatal 
illness. Bentley was buried in a vault within Chiswick 
Church. Many friends gathered together at his funeral. 
They deplored the sudden death of one who was so 
bright, so gifted, and so intelligent. Wedgwood, who 
was almost overwhelmed by his loss, had a tablet 
erected over his remains by Scheemaker the sculptor. 

Sam Boardman, his partner at Liverpool, wrote : 
" 31st December 1780. It would be hard to submit to 
this fate of Providence were we not convinced that some 
wise end is answered by every event in Life, and that 


242 Josiak Wedgwood CHAP, xvm 

our esteemed Friend has, for the short time he was 
amongst us, spent a happy and useful life. He has left 
us a noble example of virtue and goodness, which I 
hope will not be forgotten in our actions, both in public 
and private life." 

Athenian Stuart composed a record of his life. The 
last words were these : " His extensive abilities, guided 
by the most expanded philanthropy, were employed in 
forming and executing plans for the public good. He 
thought with the freedom of a philosopher, he acted 
with the integrity of a virtuous citizen." 

Chiswick Church has been recently rebuilt, but the 
monument, with its inscription to Bentley, is still to 
be seen over the south door of the interior of the 

Immediately after the death of Bentley, the London 
stock, so far as related to the partnership of Wedgwood 
and Bentley, was sold at Christie's, the sale occupying 
twelve days. "The Sacrifice to Hymen," made in 1787 
after the design of Flaxman, sold for 415. At the 
sale of Dr. Sitson's collection, eight years later, the 
large "Apotheosis of Homer," designed also by Flax- 
man, sold for the enormous sum of 735 ! It has now 
passed into the collection of Lord Tweedmouth. Wedg- 
wood's statement proved true, that his ornamental works 
only wanted time and scarcity to make them worth 
any price. 



EVER since Wedgwood had begun the manufacture of 
earthenware, his attention had been attracted to the 
heat of his kilns. He pulled down one after another 
in order to find the furnace that would bake his earthen- 
ware and melt his glazes. This cost him a great deal 
of money, but he conquered the difficulty by his usual 

He experimented constantly, in the endeavour to 
find the necessary gradations of heat up to the very 
highest point ; and this led him to the invention of his 
pyrometer that is, a machine for measuring tempera- 
ture by the expansion of solid bodies by heat. He 
began from the commencement of redness up to the 
highest temperature that can be produced in the 
furnaces of the chemist. The celebrated Bergmann, in 
his Sciagraphia, reckoned the heat at which silver 
melts to be less than that which makes iron red hot. 
This, however, was afterwards found to be a mistake. 

244 ' Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

Muschenbrock, Desaguliers, Ellicot, and Smeaton 
the engineer, made experiments with the pyrometer, 
but they never reached so intense a degree of heat as 
that attained by Wedgwood. The advantages of an 
accurate measure of the heats of metals, furnaces, and 
other objects, are obvious to every one concerned in 
operations by fire, and Wedgwood's invention for 
supplying this grand desideratum was as simple as it 
was ingenious. 

All clays are contracted, or have their bulk dimin- 
ished, by fire, more and more in proportion to the 
intensity of the heat ; e.g. little masses of the same clay 
are adjusted to enter the wider end of a graduated 
canal ; so that, after passing through fire they will 
go further into the canal, the point at which they 
stop showing their quantity of diminution. This 
point is numbered, and exhibits the heat which the 
clay has undergone. This instrument Wedgwood first 
called a Pyrometer, or heat-measurer ; but that name 
having previously been appropriated to a machine 
of a different kind, for measuring the expansion of 
bodies, he thought it better to retain the name of 
" Thermometer." l 

Wedgwood sent his first paper to the Eoyal Society 
on the 9th of May 1782. His paper was entitled, " An 
attempt to make a Thermometer for measuring the 
higher degrees of Heat, from a red heat up to the 

1 Wedgwood explained his views to the Royal Society (Philosophical 
Transactions, vol. Ixxii., and afterwards in vols. Ixxiv. and Ixxvi.). 

xix Pyrometer or Thermometer 245 

strongest that vessels of clay can support." A few 
months after his paper had been read at the Eoyal 
Society, Mr. William Playfair, an Edinburgh Professor, 
wrote to Mr. Wedgwood the following letter (London, 
12th September 1782) : " Sir I had the pleasure of 
being present at the reading of your very ingenious 
paper on your newly-invented Thermometer before the 
Eoyal Society last spring, and of joining in the general 
satisfaction that such an acquisition to Art gave all 
present. I have never conversed with anybody on the 
subject who did not admire your Thermometer, and 
considered it as being as perfect as the nature of things 
will admit of for great heat; but I have joined with 
several in wishing that the scale of your Thermometer 
were compared with that of Fahrenheit's (so universally 
used for small degrees of heat), that without learning a 
new signification, or affixing a new idea, to the term 
Degree of Heat, we might avail ourselves of your useful 
invention. The method proposed in the enclosed paper 
occurred to me as one applicable to this purpose, and I 
lay it before you with all deference to your better 
judgment of the subject. I should be glad to know 
where I could purchase some of your Thermometers, 
as I can get none here in town. I am, sir, with 
much regard, your most humble servant, WILLIAM 

Wedgwood followed Mr. Playfair's advice. In his 
next papers, sent to the Eoyal Society, he gave a re- 
duction of the degrees of his Thermometer to Fahren- 

246 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

belt's scale, from which it appeared that the greatest 
heat he could generate in a small furnace coincided 
with many thousands of degrees of Fahrenheit, the 
scale of heat which was registered by his Thermometer 
being about thirty-four times as extensive as that to 
which the common Thermometers could be applied. 

In another paper (Phil. Travis. Ixxvi.) he described 
the manner of forming the clay pieces and of adjusting 
the quality of the clay itself, with the divisions of the 
measuring gauge or scale, so that the same circum- 
stances might constantly give the same results. The 
clay he had employed at first was the small remainder 
of a parcel from Cornwall, which was soon exhausted. 
Fresh parcels, even from the same pit, differed con- 
siderably in the degree of their diminution by fire. 
He therefore found it necessary to add to the best clays 
he could procure a large proportion of Alum earth, in 
the gelatinous state in which it was precipitated by 
alkalies from the solution of alum, and well washed by 
boiling water. By these and other experiments, Wedg- 
wood was at length enabled to bring his clay to the 
proper degree of compression, so as to be duly measured 
by his heat gauge. 

Wedgwood had much correspondence with Sir Joseph 
Banks, President of the Koyal Society. Many of Sir 
Joseph's early letters consisted of introductions of 
distinguished foreigners to Wedgwood, whose works 
at Etruria were considered one of the shows of the 
kingdom. One of the most interesting was the letter 

xix Pyrometer or Thermometer 247 

to Wedgwood, announcing that he had been elected a 
Fellow of the Eoyal Society on the 16th of January 
1783. In a later letter Sir Joseph requested Wedgwood 
to select some person skilled in the mystery of potteries, 
to accompany Lord Macartney to the Emperor of 
China, to acquaint himself with any mode of manu- 
facture used by the Chinese, and of which the artists 
of this country were as yet ignorant. " To you, sir," 
he added, "who have always practised Pottery as a 
Science instead of an Art, we naturally look up for 
advice where to meet with such a person." 

Sir Joseph's letter of the 6th of April 1784 relates 
to Wedgwood's Thermometer, and other affairs : " Dear 
Sir Your paper proposing a mode of connecting the 
scale of your Thermometer with Fahrenheit's I have 
received and read with care. The whole meets with 
my entire approbation, and I shall take the first oppor- 
tunity in my power to read it to the Eoyal Society. 
One thing, however, I must remark, which is, that you 
seem not to hare heard of the experiments made last 
winter at Hudson's Bay, by which the point at which 
mercury congeals into a malleable metal is fixed to be 
40 below zero on Fahrenheit's Thermometer. All 
points of cold, therefore, below that which have been 
observed by a mercurial Thermometer must be set aside. 
It is a matter of no consequence to you, only will cause 
a trifling alteration in the notes on the scale of your 

" You are, believe me, good sir, much wanted here. 

248 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

We attend the Club (Athenian 1 ) with tolerable regu- 
larity. Hodgson makes punch and talks politics ; 
Griffiths drinks it and makes jokes ; but we all look 
out for your assistance. 

"We have had a series of disputes at the Eoyal 
Society, which have employed us fully from Christmas 
to Easter. Now, however, the disaffected, at least the 
active ones, who were at first forty-seven, are reduced 
to two. I think we have a fair prospect of peace 
returning, which, too, is likely to be permanent. 

" We have no signs of spring here, not a shade of 
green on a hedge or a gooseberry bush unfolded. This 
day, however, cloudy and rainy with wind ; never- 
theless, the thermometer rises a good symptom. 
Yours faithfully, Jos. BANKS." 

In a letter to Dr. Priestley, then at Paris, Wedgwood 
says (2nd September 1791): "M. Lavoisier has sent 
for two of my thermometers, which I have accordingly 
forwarded to him. M. Seguin says : We find this 
instrument of the greatest use, and at this moment we 
feel more than ever its indispensability, because we are 
employing ourselves (M. Lavoisier and I) in completing 
the theory of furnaces of fusion, but we are still in 
need of some instructions, which we pray you to be 
pleased to give us." 

Wedgwood's papers to the Eoyal Society were trans- 
lated into French, Dutch, and other foreign languages. 
Indeed, Wedgwood had as great a scientific and artistic 

1 Of which Mr. Wedgwood was the father, or oldest member. 

xix Pyrometer or Thermometer 249 

reputation abroad as he had at home. In Sweden 
his papers were voluminously reprinted. The Eoyal 
Academy of Sciences at Upsala (the Swedish University 
near Stockholm) not only possess the Transactions of 
Josiah Wedgwood, with a copious table of contents, 
in five volumes; but also his Chemical Collections, 
consisting of many valuable articles and memoranda on 
assaying, metallurgy, dyeing, painting on glass, glazing 
for porcelain earths, cements, colouring matter, fur- 
naces, and so on, with tables of specific gravities, also 
in five volumes. Both of these series (according to the 
Catalogue in the British Museum) have been translated 
from the Swedish and German, with some pieces from 
original sources, by Dr. W. Lewis, author of Experi- 
mental History of the Materia Medica. These docu- 
ments are very neatly written, and illustrated with 
drawings. Ten vols. Eoyal Svo. 1 

Considerable progress has inevitably been made in 
the measuring of intense heat. A new method was 
invented by Mr. Gurney, which he employed in his 
chemical lectures, for ascertaining the relative expan- 
sibility of the various metals that can be drawn into 
wire. But the most important improvement in the 
pyrometer was that invented by Professor Daniell in 
1821, which has, for the most part, superseded all 
others ; though Wedgwood's use of clay, in the form of 

1 The Wedgwood MSS. collection in the British Museum. The 
Press marks are 

Additional MSS. 28,309-313. 
Do. do. 28,314-318. 

250 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

porcelain, is still used in his invention. Mr. Ericsson, 
a great inventor, has also exerted his genius in en- 
deavouring to form another description of pyrometer. 
But here we must leave the subject, having shown the 
part which "Wedgwood took in advancing the science 
of the intense-heat-measurer. 

Wedgwood, ever inventing and ever improving, 
introduced, in 1785, a "jasper dip," in which the clay 
vessels were dipped and received a coating of jasper, 
instead of being formed of that body throughout. 
This enabled the jasper ware to be sold at a much 
cheaper rate ; yet without any decrease in the beauty 
of the manufacture. Wedgwood's ordinary trade con- 
tinued to increase. He sent large consignments of 
goods to Eussia ; and notwithstanding the almost pro- 
hibitory duties, he received many orders from Germany, 
Italy, and even France. He continued to add orna- 
mentation to utility. Even in his chimneypieces he 
introduced some of his most artistic designs. 

Wedgwood was of opinion that the fireplace should 
be the most cheerful part of the house. There the 
family assembled and indulged in their homely talk. 
Here strangers were admitted and joined in the con- 
versation. Why should not the chimneypiece, to 
which they all gazed, be made bright, cheerful, and 
represent artistic objects ? This was the reason 
why he devoted so much attention to his chimney- 
pieces, and invited Flaxman to assist him with 
his beautiful designs of cameos and bas-reliefs, from 

xix Pyrometer or Thermometer 251 

the antique, as well as from his own imaginative 

Wedgwood had the greatest difficulty in retaining 
his best workmen. Foreigners prowled about his 
works, got into conversation with the men, and en- 
deavoured to bribe them to take service in foreign 
countries. Boulton and Watt of Birmingham were also 
besieged by the same adventurers, so that they were 
forced to close their gates against all piratical foreign 

A good deal of lawlessness prevailed in the manu- 
facturing districts about that time. The cotton-spinners 
in Lancashire went from mill to mill to break down the 
machinery by which they earned their living. The 
working people thought that when any of their own 
number founded an industry and made it profitable, 
it was all for their own advantage, and tended to the 
misery of the poor. Their capital was all stolen from 
the workpeople ! Troops were brought out to put an 
end to the cotton-spinners' strike. The same lawless- 
ness prevailed in Staffordshire. The men who worked 
at the potteries could only go home in bands to protect 
themselves against the highwaymen who paraded the 
roads. The men who worked at Etruria dared not quit 
the works singly or unarmed. The police were set upon 
the highwaymen ; some of whom were arrested, com- 
mitted, and tried at Stafford, but the depredations 
continued. A mob seized one of Wedgwood's boats, 


filled with goods for Manchester ; it was rifled of its 

252 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

contents, which were sold at any prices they would 
fetch. We find among the Wedgwood papers a letter 
from Ashton Lever (27th September 1781) as to the 
fragments of the Holophuricon, which had been blown 
to pieces by a waggon-load of gunpowder at Talk-o'-th'- 

Wedgwood was under the impression that his works 
were threatened. He despatched messengers to New- 
castle-under-Lyme, and the result was that a company 
of the Welsh Fusiliers and a detachment of the 
Staffordshire Militia arrived at Etruria. Several of the 
highwaymen were seized and tried; one of them was 
hanged, and the turmoil was thus put an end to. No 
doubt great distress existed. The war with America 
was on foot, and everything was thrown into confusion 
at home. Factories were closed, and many men, both 
in Lancashire and the Potteries, were thrown out of 
work. Yet Etruria was always ready to give employ- 
ment to those who were willing to give their industry 
for good wages. 

When everything had in a manner settled down, 
Wedgwood published a small pamphlet on the folly 
of such outbreaks for the redress of social wrongs, 
entitled An Address to the Young Inhabitants of the 
Pottery, which he distributed amongst his work-people. 
In the course of this pamphlet he said : " I would request 
you to ask your parents for a description of the country 
we inhabit, when they first knew it ; and they will tell 
you that the inhabitants bore all the signs of poverty to 

xix Pyrometer or Thermometer 253 

a much greater degree than they do now. Their houses 
were miserable huts ; the lands were poorly cultivated, 
and yielded little of value for the food of man or beast ; 
and these disadvantages, with roads almost impassable, 
might be said to have cut off our part of the country 
from the rest of the world, besides not rendering it 
very comfortable to ourselves. Compare this picture, 
which I know to be a true one, with the present state 
of the same country. The workmen earning nearly 
double their former wages, their houses mostly new 
and comfortable, and the lands, roads, and every other 
circumstance bearing evident marks of the most pleas- 
ing and rapid improvements. . . . Industry has been 
the parent of this happy change. A well-directed and 
long-continued series of industrious exertions, both in 
masters and servants, has so changed for the better 
the face of our country, its buildings, lands, roads (he 
might have added canals), and, notwithstanding the 
present unfavourable appearances, I must say the 
manner and deportment of its inhabitants too, have 
been such as to attract the notice and admiration of 
countries which had scarcely heard of us before ; and 
how far these improvements may still be carried on by 
the same laudable means which have brought us thus 
far, has been one of the most pleasing contemplations 
of my life." 

Wedgwood had still another pamphlet to issue. It 
has already been said that many efforts were made by 
foreigners and others to induce the best workmen to 

254 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

leave their employment in Staffordshire. A Mr. 
Bartlem induced some potters to follow him into South 
Carolina, but the result was very unsuccessful. Others 
went to Pennsylvania. A few went to France and 
Germany, but they did not succeed. Wedgwood pro- 
ceeded to address the Staffordshire men on the subject 
of entering into the service of foreign manufacturers. 
He pleaded with them that they should not wantonly 
throw into the hands of foreigners, perhaps of enemies, 
the superiority the potters of Staffordshire had laboured 
for and achieved. 

A Chamber of Commerce was established in 1785 
for the purpose of maintaining the interests of British 
manufacturers. Wedgwood and Boulton were the 
leaders of this movement. The first meeting was held 
in London at the close of the year, and many of the 
leading manufacturers of England were present. Ire- 
land had then Home Eule ; but the Irish Parliament 
legislated in a hostile spirit towards English commerce. 
They imposed heavy taxes upon all manufactures im- 
ported into Ireland from England ; whilst Irish manu- 
factures were not only sent into England duty free, 
but their own Parliament encouraged their constituents 
by giving a bounty upon exportation. 

The Chamber of Commerce expostulated against 
the partial and unjust spirit of this legislation, and 
petitioned the British Parliament for free interchange 
on equal terms. James Watt, inventor of the con- 
densing steam-engine, though averse to taking part in 

xix Pyrometer or Thermometer 255 

political movements, now came forward as a pamph- 
leteer. He endeavoured to show that the true way of 
encouraging manufacturers in Ireland was, not by 
bounties, nor by prohibitions, but by an entire freedom 
of industry between the two countries. He held that 
the best mode of giving the Irish manufacturers vigour 
was by having recourse to British manufacturers, 
possessed of capital, industry, and knowledge of trade. 
" It is contemptible nonsense," he said, " to argue that 
because Ireland has never had manufactories, she can- 
not have them now. One hundred years ago the Irish 
had no linen manufactories ; they imported linen, and 
now they sell us to the extent of a million annually ! 
How came this about ? The tyranny of the Scotch 
Privy Council under Charles II. chased the people 
out of Scotland because they were Presbyterians. Ire- 
land received and protected them; they peopled the 
northern provinces ; many of them were weavers ; they 
followed their business in Ireland, and taught others. 
Philip II. chased the inhabitants out of Flanders on 
account of religion. Queen Elizabeth received and 
protected them." Then came the large importation of 
the Huguenots through the persecution of Louis XIV. ; 
and large manufactories were established, both in 
England and Ireland. 

Towards the end of his statement Watt asks : 
" Would it not be more manly and proper at once to 
invite the Irish to come into a perfect Union with 
Britain, and to pay the same duties and excise that 

256 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

we do ? Then every distinction of country might 
with justice be done away with, and they would have 
a fair claim to all the advantages which we enjoy." 

The result of the agitation of the Chamber of 
Commerce was, that most of the proposals to impose 
new taxes on the raw materials of manufacture were 
withdrawn by the ministry, and the Irish resolutions 
were considerably modified. The delegates separated, 
with the resolution to extend and maintain their 
organisation in the manufacturing districts. 

To return to Wedgwood's career. His foreign trade 
continued to increase, especially after the Commercial 
Treaty with France had been entered into in September 
1*786 a few years before the French Ee volution took 
place. Eussia was one of his best customers for 
ornamental wares ; but Holland, Germany, Italy, and 
even Spain, were alive to the merits of his manu- 
factures. After the departure of Flaxman for Eome, 
Wedgwood had several excellent modellers. Amongst 
these, Webber was one of the best. He had also the 
assistance of Westmacott and Wyatt, then very young 
men. Lochee, great in modelling gems and small 
objects, was another admirable artist employed by 

As old friends passed away, new ones made their 
appearance. Sir Joshua Eeynolds painted Wedgwood's 
portrait, as well as that of his wife, in 1*783 ; and 
Wedgwood produced a medallion of the artist, modelled 
by Flaxman. After the death of Sir Joshua, a few 

xix Pyrometer or Thermometer 257 

years later, this medallion became very popular. Eomney 
was another of Wedgwood's friends. We find him thank- 
ing the potter " for his very kind and obliging offer to 
let him have any of his elegant ware to sketch from, 
when Mr. Eomney is in want of ornaments. I will call 
upon you on the first opportunity." 

Lady Templeton must have been a very good friend 
of Wedgwood. She admired his works so much that on 
several occasions she lent him some of her charming 
groups of children; which Wedgwood copied in his 
beautiful jasper Bas-reliefs. The first was sent on the 
27th June 1783, and the second some months later. 
The Bas-reliefs on this occasion were used on the 
Queen's Opera-Glass. They were made by Wedgwood 
after the designs of Lady Templeton. One represented 
Sterne's Maria, the other a Bourbonnais Shepherdess. 
Another of her examples was a ring of great beauty 
the subject Jupiter. Had Lady Templeton been a 
poorer woman, she might have made a fortune by her 
wonderful gifts. 

Wedgwood was also a friend, as well as a good 
customer, of Wright of Derby. We find him in 1784 
receiving from Wright a picture of the Maid of Corinth, 
as well as a portrait of Erasmus Darwin. Wright had 
before spoken of it as " a sweet subject," and it was 
painted to Wedgwood's satisfaction. He had before sent 
a sketch of Penelope and several other works. Hopp- 
ner must also have been a friend, because we find him 
in January 1785, when he was a young man struggling 


258 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP, xix 

for a position as a portrait painter, requesting a loan of 
30 from Wedgwood ; which the potter, with his gener- 
ous disposition, immediately sent him. Hoppner at 
length struggled up the hill of difficulty, and was made 
a Eoyal Academician in 1795. 

Amongst Wedgwood's other correspondents about 
1785, were Mr. Pitt, at Downing Street (making an 
appointment), Mr. Wilberforce, Mr. Sheridan, John 
Hunter, Granville Sharp, Sir Eichard Arkwright, and 
Thomas Day ; but their letters convey no special in- 
formation. Before we conclude this chapter, we may 
append the copy of a letter from Benjamin Franklin 
to Wedgwood, in acknowledging one of his valuable 
presents : 

Philadelphia, 15th May 1787. Sir I received the 
letter you did me the honour of writing to me on the 
29th of February past, with your valuable present of 
Cameos, which I am distributing among my friends ; in 
whose countenances I have seen such marks of being 
affected by contemplating the figure of the Suppliant 
(which is admirably executed) * that I am persuaded it 
may have an effect equal to that of the best written 
Pamphlet in procuring favour to these oppressed people. 
Please to accept my hearty thanks, and believe me to be, 
with great esteem, sir, your most obedient servant, 

1 The Suppliant, "Am I not a man and a brother?" was designed 
by that admirable artist Hackwood, for the benefit of the Society for 
the Abolition of Slavery. 



THE Barberini or Portland Vase, now in the British 
Museum, is perhaps the finest work of the kind made 
by the Ancient Greeks. It was found deposited in a 
marble urn within a sepulchral monument, under the 
Monte del Grano, two and a half miles from Eorne on the 
road to Erascati. Thence it came into the possession 
of the Barberini family ; and when they desired in 
1770 to raise money by the sale of their works of art, 
it was purchased by the antiquary Byres, and afterwards 
sold by him to Sir William Hamilton. 

Hamilton, in writing to Wedgwood about the pur- 
chase of the Vase, said : " The person I bought it of at 
Eome will do me the justice to say that the superior 
excellence of this exquisite masterpiece of ancient art 
struck me so much at first sight, that I eagerly asked, 
' Is this yours ? Will you sell it ? ' He answered, ' Yes, 
but never under 1000.' 'I will give you 1000,' and 
so I did, though God knows it was not very convenient 
for me, and the business was concluded in a moment. 

260 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

" Except the Apollo Belvedere, the Niobe, and two 
or three others of the first- class marbles, I do not 
believe that there are any monuments of antiquity 
existing that were executed by so great an artist ; and 
I have no doubt of this being a work of the time of 
Alexander the Great, and was probably brought out of 
Asia by Alexander Severus, whose ashes were deposited 
therein after his death." 

We find from the Memoirs of Captain Rapin, a 
gallant Huguenot, who fought at the Boyne, Athlone, 
and the two sieges of Limerick, that he was recalled to 
London for the purpose of being appointed governor 
and tutor to Lord Woodstock, son of Bentinck, Earl of 
Portland. The two, tutor and pupil, travelled through 
Holland, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. It was 
while in Italy that the Earl of Portland requested Eapin 
to have copies made for him of the rarest medals in 
point of historic interest ; and also to purchase for him 
objects of ancient workmanship. It was in this way 
that Kapin persuaded the Earl to purchase from Sir 
William Hamilton the Barberini, now called the 
Portland Vase, and thus to secure for England one of the 
most exquisite specimens of Grecian Ceramic art. On 
resigning his office as tutor to Lord Woodstock, Eapin 
retired to Wesel, on the Lower Rhine, where he wrote 
his History of England; which was afterwards trans- 
lated by Mr. N. Tindal and achieved a great reputation. 1 

1 Raoul do Cazenove published a handsome volume entitled Eapin- 
Thoyras, sa Famille, sa Vie, et ses (Euvres, which contains the fullest 
information as to the Huguenot hero. 


The Barberini or Portland Vase 261 

This world-renowned Barberini vase was the identical 
urn in which the ashes of the Eoman Emperor 
Alexander Severus and his mother Julia Mammsea 
were deposited. It was placed under the monument on 
Monte del Grano about 235 years after Christ, and it 
was dug up by order of Pope Barberini, or Urban VIII., 
between the years 1623 and 1644. The materials of 
which the vase is composed resemble an Agate some 
say an Onyx. The ground of the vase is of a rich 
transparent, dark amethystine colour, and the Bas-relief 
white figures which adorn it are of the most exquisite 
workmanship. The vase is 9f inches high, 7j inches in 
diameter, and 2 If inches in circumference ; and has two 

The probability is, that the artistic manufacture of 
the vase was much more ancient than the date of its 
interment at Monte del Grano. The Emperor Alexander 
Severus was an enthusiastic collector of the finest 
specimens of ancient Greek art, and he desired that at 
the time of his death his ashes should be deposited in 
one of the finest of the Greek urns. The figures engraved 
in bas-relief on the urn in question have no reference 
to the life or deeds of the Emperor. 

There is Leda with the swan, before her Jupiter, a 
Cupid holding a bow, and on the outside of the bottom 
of the vase is a man (supposed to be Paris) with a 
Phrygian bonnet. This seems to have no connection 
with the Emperor's history, or of his mother Mammsea. 
Some think it is a satire upon the vices of Heliogabalus ; 

262 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

others consider it a eulogium on the virtues of his 
immediate successor Alexander Severus. But the whole 
subject is involved in mystery. 

Mr. Marryat supposed that the cameos were porcelain, 
applied as a paste and burnt to due hardness ; and that 
with more heat it would become glossy like the Dresden 
porcelain. . . . Applied to the glass when it came out 
of the mould, then passed with the glass vessel into 
the fire, after which the cameos would be amalgamated 
or soldered on. The glass foot is thought to have been 
cemented on, after the bones or ashes had been placed 
in the urn. 

The vase was bought by Sir William Hamilton from 
Byres the antiquary for 1000, and was afterwards sold 
by him to the Duchess of Portland (the Earl having 
died) for 1800 guineas, so that Sir William must have 
realised a considerable profit by his purchase. At the 
sale of her Grace's property after her decease in 1786, 
the vase was "bought in by the Portland family for 

When Wedgwood heard that this splendid example 
of Grecian or Etruscan art was to be sold, he determined 
to possess the ancient gem. The young Duke of Portland 
also desired to retain its possession. It was put up for 
sale at the rooms of Skinner and Company. The bidding 
went on with spirit. Wedgwood bid to upwards of a 
thousand pounds. Then the Duke overbid him. At 
last the Duke, seeing that there were only two bidders, 
stepped across the room and asked Wedgwood what was 

xx The Barberini or Portland Vase 263 

his object in endeavouring to possess the vase. " I wish 
to copy it," answered Wedgwood. " Then, if you will 
give over bidding," said the Duke, " I will let you have 
the vase as long as you like, that you may effect your 
object." This proposal was as frankly accepted as it was 
frankly offered. The Duke became the purchaser of 
the vase for 1029, and Wedgwood took with him to 
Etruria the priceless gem. 

Then came the serious difficulty of copying the 
Portland vase. He studied the work with minute 
attention. He came to the conclusion that the figures 
on the vase could not have been moulded separately, 
and applied afterwards upon the body; but that the 
body, which is a deep blue glass, had been coated over, 
in part at least, while red hot, with a semi-transparent 
white enamel, and the figures formed by cutting through 
the coat down to the blue ground in the manner of real 
cameos ; and that, by this mode of working, the artist 
had been enabled to superadd to the exquisite beauty 
of the sculpture, the effect of light and shade, by cutting 
down the parts to greater or less thickness, according as 
the shade was required to be deeper or lighter. By this 
means the blue underneath was more or less visible 
through the semi-transparent white relief. To work in 
this manner a vase of such magnitude, so much time, 
labour, and skill would be required for the production 
of a single piece, that no modern artist, however capable 
of the execution, would engage to perform the operation. 
Some thought that Wedgwood's endeavour to produce 

264 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

the same effect was a presumptous attempt, especially in 
his own jasper compositions. 

Wedgwood took a vast amount of advice before he 
proceeded with the work. While still busy studying 
the Portland Vase, he wrote to Lord Auckland, then 
Ambassador at Madrid. In the course of his letter, 
Wedgwood said : " I employ several modellers constantly 
in Koine, and get what I can from Paris, and am very 
happy when I can have anything done by my own 
artists in England; but my works are too small and 
delicate for them, so that little assistance can be ob- 
tained in England, except what is done under my own 
eye at Etruria. You will perhaps wonder at your not 
having heard something of the Barberini Vase. I was 
always very sensible of the difficulty of attempting to 
copy so exquisite a piece of workmanship ; but in the 
progress of the undertaking, difficulties have occurred 
which nothing but practice could have discovered to 
me. The prospect, however, brightens before me, and 
after having made several defective copies, I think I 
begin to see my way to the final completion of it. I 
shall take the liberty of troubling your Excellency with 
a further account of my progress in this great work 
for such you must permit me to call it as I advance 
nearer to the end." 

Wedgwood also took the advice of Sir William 
Hamilton, at one time the possessor of the Portland 
Vase. Sir William replied : " Naples, 24th July 1786. 
Sir I will not delay answering, as well as I am able, 

xx The Barberini or Portland Vase 265 

your letter of the 22nd of last month. It gives me 
much satisfaction to find that the Barberini Vase not 
only remains in England, but is in your hands, as I 
well know that no one can make a better use of it. ... 
You have seen so well into the difficulties you will 
have to encounter, if you attempt an exact copy of this 
Vase, that I really have nothing to add to the reflec- 
tions you have made on the subject, and I much 
approve of your beginning with the most simple copies. 
I much approve likewise of your making copies of 
single figures and even of the heads. In short, you 
cannot multiply this wonderful performance too much ; 
but I am convinced, as you say, that an exact copy of 
the Vase finished by the engraver would be too expen- 
sive to find a purchaser in Europe. 

" I admire your enthusiasm on the frequent and 
close examination of the Vase, and am happy that its 
superior merit is felt by some few in England. I saw 
it every day for above a year, and protest that I 
admired it more and more. You are very right in 
there being some little defects in the drawing. It 
would, however, be dangerous to touch that, but I 
should highly approve of your restoring in your copies 
what has been damaged by the hand of Time. The 
side where the female figure has a torch reversed is 
perfectly preserved, and the other should be made as 
like it as possible. 

"I should have thought that my friend Flaxman 
would have been of use to you in your present under- 

266 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

taking, for I must do him the justice to say that I 
never saw a bas-relief executed in the true simple 
antique style half so well as that he did of the 
Apotheose of Homer from one of my Vases, and one of 
which you were so good as send to me. 

"Your ornamental Flowerpots and other pieces of 
work are much admired here, but for a piece you sell 
for twelve shillings they ask at least two guineas ; so 
that there are few purchasers. If you could, instead 
of sky-blue, make your ground look like an onyx as 
in the Vase itself, it would be better ; for there is no 
natural stone of the sky-blue colour. Unless you hold 
up the Barberini Vase to the light, it appears to be 
of a real onyx, and was long mistaken for one. 

" I most heartily wish you success in your present 
arduous task. Follow your own judgment, for I am 
sure no one can see clearer into the merit of the 
original, and the difficulty of copying it, than you do. 
I think, with you, the form might be more elegant, 
and I would try to make one more elegant, but it must 
be simple. Your most obedient, WM. HAMILTON." 

"Wedgwood replied to this letter, thanking Sir 
William for his great efforts to advance the arts in 
his native country, and for the splendid vases which 
he had placed in the British Museum. He also 
thanked him for the models in clay taken from the 
statues he had dug up at Herculaneum. He promised 
to inform Sir William of the excellent new modellers 
he had employed principally Mr. Webber on the re- 

xx The Barberini or Portland Vase 267 

commendation of Sir Joshua Keynolds and Sir William 

"Thus you see, sir," Wedgwood continued, "I am 
laying foundations, and in some measure sacrificing the 
present for the future ; but I shall not in the mean- 
time leave myself altogether without resources. I have 
an excellent modeller here, who has been some years 
under Mr. Webber's instructions. And Mr. Banks, a 
very able statuary in London, whom you must have 
known in Italy, and another artist in town, both of 
whom have promised to employ all the time they 
can spare for me. . . . 

"I have likewise many chimneypieces in hand, 
some of which, with the vases and figures that are 
to go along with them, will be very tedious and ex- 
pensive. But my great work is the Portland Vase. 
I have now finished a third and last edition of the 
figures ; the two first being suppressed in hopes of 
making the third still more perfect. In this I have 
certainly succeeded, but how far I have done so upon 
the whole, and with what success, others must deter- 
mine. My present difficulty is to give those beauti- 
ful shades to the thin and distant parts of the figures, 
for which the original artist availed himself of the semi- 
transparency of the white glass, cutting it down nearer 
and nearer to the blue ground, in proportion as he 
wished to increase the depth of shade. But the case is 
very different with me. I must depend upon an agent, 
whose effects are neither at my command, nor to be per- 

268 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

ceived at the time they are produced, viz. the action 
of fire on my compositions ; a little more or a little 
less fire, and even the length of time employed in 
producing the same degree, will make a very material 
difference in this delicate operation. I am now en- 
gaged in a course of experiments for determining these 
points with as much precision as the nature of the 
case will admit of, and this is now the only thing 
that retards the completion of this grand object. 

" I long much to see the copies you are so good as 
to send me of those fine works of antiquity, and you 
may depend upon seeing the first productions from 
them with all the despatch I am able to make. My 
best thanks, accompanied as they are with the sincerest 
gratitude and highest respect to your Excellency, are 
a poor return for these repeated instances of your 
goodness to me." 

At length, by introducing other expedients where 
the hand of the modeller was insufficient, Wedgwood 
in 1790, after many unsuccessful trials, produced 
copies of the Portland Vase which, after a strict 
comparison with the original, gave perfect satisfac- 
tion to the most distinguished artists in Great Britain. 
For the satisfaction of those who could not have 
an opportunity of making such comparison them- 
selves, he thought it necessary to have the accuracy 
of some of the copies authenticated in the fullest 
manner by men of the highest distinction ; in the first 
place by the possessor of the Vase itself, the Duke of 

xx The Barberini or Portland Vase 269 

Portland ; then by Sir Joseph Banks, President of the 
Koyal Society ; by the Earl of Leicester, President of the 
Society of Antiquaries ; and by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 
President of the Eoyal Academy of Arts. Sir Joshua 
was pleased to add that he " can venture to declare it a 
correct and faithful imitation, both in regard to the 
general effect and the most minute detail of the parts." 

Wedgwood had the Portland Vase in his posses- 
sion for more than twelve months, and during that 
time he made fifty copies, which were subscribed for 
at fifty guineas each; yet the sum thus realised fell 
far short of his actual outlay in making them. Wedg- 
wood himself regarded it as his chef-d'oeuvre. Like his 
other works, his copy of the Vase greatly increased 
in value after his death. At Mr. Eoger's sale, one of 
them was sold for 127 guineas; and on the 24th of 
March 1892 another copy, belonging to the late Mr. 
Holt of Liverpool, was sold at Christie's for 205 

When Sir William Hamilton next visited England, 
it was partly for the purpose of seeing the copy of the 
Portland Vase. After his visit to Etruria, he sent the 
following letter to Wedgwood : 

" Newcastle-under-Lyme, 23rd July 1790. Sir 
Not having had the good fortune to meet with you in 
London, I determined to take Etruria on my way to 
Derbyshire, where I am going to make a visit. I am 
now just returned from your house, and much dis- 
appointed at not having had the pleasure of finding 

270 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

either you or my Naples acquaintance at home. How- 
ever, I have accomplished one of my great objects, 
which was the seeing your wonderful copy of the 
Portland Vase. I am so well acquainted with the 
original, and the difficulties you must have met with, 
that I really think it is so. The sublime character of 
the original is wonderfully preserved in your copy, 
and little more is wanting than the sort of transparency 
which your materials could not imitate, to induce those, 
not quite so knowing as you and I are, to mistake it for 
the original. In short, I am wonderfully pleased with 
it, and give you the greatest credit for having arrived so 
near the imitation of what I believe to be the first 
specimen of the excellence of the Arts of the Ancients 
existing. ... I saw the models of some bas-reliefs that 
the young man you employ at Eome has done for you, 
and I think them excellent. Flaxman goes on im- 
proving daily, and is in my opinion the greatest genius 
we have at Koine. He is attempting a marble group 
as big as the Laocoon, and I think will succeed wonder- 
fully. . . . I am, sir, etc., WM. HAMILTON." 

In the course of the same year, Wedgwood published 
his Dissertation on the Portland Vase, in which he 
detailed the results of his observations as to the pro- 
cesses employed in its original manufacture; and he 
explained his views as to the meaning of the groups of 
figures which embellished it. Several of these explana- 
tions are manifestly erroneous, having probably been 
formed from inaccurate drawings, in which the right 

xx The Barberini or Portland Vase 2 7 1 

hand is often mistaken for the left, and the male 
figures for female. All of them, indeed, are merely 
conjectural ; and it is not to be wondered at that the 
warm imagination of Wedgwood, with the beautiful 
original before his eyes, should have made mistakes ; 
yet his Dissertation, we believe, will do no discredit 
either to his genius or his taste. 

Wedgwood's enterprise, notwithstanding his increas- 
ing years, was not upon the wane. In 1790, he went to 
Meissen, near Dresden, to visit the Eoyal Factory, 
maintained by the king of Saxony. It had become 
unable to pay its expenses, and was a heavy drain upon 
the Sovereign's privy purse. After visiting the factory, 
Wedgwood was so convinced of its capabilities, if under 
good management, that he offered a payment of 3000 
a year to be allowed to take it entirely upon himself, 
but his offer was refused. 1 

At length the king became tired of the annual ex- 
pense, and ceded the porcelain factory to the Finance 
Department, who continued it to their loss. The 
kaolin at Aue had been nearly exhausted. The factory 
is now reduced to a low ebb, and produces only inferior 
articles. It was well for Wedgwood that his offer was 
refused, and that he was under the necessity of return- 
ing to England, and carrying on his still prosperous 
business at Etruria. 

Long after the Portland vase had passed out 

1 History of Pottery and Porcelain. By Joseph Manyat. Murray, 

272 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP, xx 

of Wedgwood's hands, and been deposited in the 
British Museum, a lunatic named William Lloyd 
smashed the vase to pieces in 1845. The man was 
apprehended, and paid the fine imposed by the magis- 
trates rather than undergo imprisonment. The pieces 
of the vase were carefully gathered together, and joined 
so perfectly by Mr. Doubleday that a blemish can 
scarcely be detected ; and the restored vase, with one 
of Wedgwood's copies, is now deposited in the medal 
room of the museum. 



NOTWITHSTANDING the various works in which he was 
engaged, Wedgwood never neglected the interests of 
his family. The most complete domestic happiness 
was added to the general prosperity with which his 
days were blessed. He was happy in his wife, to whom 
he necessarily left the infancy of his children and, to a 
certain extent, the training of his daughters ; but to 
the education of his sons, after they had emerged from 
the period of childhood, he paid especial attention. 

From the age at which the mind begins to unfold 
its powers, and becomes sensible of having a part to 
maintain among men, the training of his sons was in 
the main his own. He lived with his children as with 
friends, in an easy and unrestrained manner. He 
showed them entire confidence, which they faithfully 
returned. He permitted no deception or imposition to 
be practised by them, even in jocularity, thus preclud- 
ing all falsehood and dissimulation. 


274 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

In short, he treated his children, from infancy to 
manhood, as rational beings. Another important point 
in his treatment of his boys and girls was to give them 
habits of inquiring and examining for themselves, thus 
elucidating the valuable talent of impartial judgment. 
More happy and respected, and perhaps less restrained 
at home than elsewhere, they had no inducement to 
seek further intercourse with the world, until their 
judgment and habits were fully formed. 

We have already referred to the ardour with which 
Wedgwood, in the company of his sons, carried on his 
chemical experiments on gas, on clay, and all manner 
of materials. In October 1785, Wedgwood sent his 
eldest son John to the University of Edinburgh. There 
he was introduced by Dr. Darwin to Dr. Joseph Black, 
Lecturer on Chemistry, and the discoverer of latent heat, 
which so much helped James Watt in his development 
of the condensing steam-engine. Young Wedgwood made 
many other friends in Edinburgh. He was introduced 
to the Principal, "who seemed very much pleased with 
Josiah Wedgwood's bas-reliefs." He also made friends 
with Drs. Eutherford, Duncan, Hutton, and Eobison, 
whose lectures he attended. 

After John's session, he went with Mr. Byerley to 
Paris, in order to perfect himself in the French 
language, and there he lived with M. Teulierc. Wedg- 
wood wrote to his son from Etruria that he had been 
told by Mr. Byerley that there was no good water in 
Paris to drink, and that he was obliged to depart from 

xxi Wedgwood' s Personal History 275 

his usual regimen and drink wine, by which his health 
has suffered considerably. "He tells me," said the 
father, " that you are obliged to do the same. I have 
explained myself fully to Mr. Byerley on this subject, 
both with respect to himself and to you. In three 
words, nothing, no advantage whatever, can in my 
mind compensate to either of you for being in such a 
situation. You know my rooted and well - founded 
objections to young people accustoming themselves to 
the use of fermented liquors. Habits of this kind are 
soon formed. They increase, and rivet themselves im- 
perceptibly both on body and mind. They cannot be too 
soon or too earnestly guarded against. May God pre- 
serve my dear son from this and all other evil habits, is 
the prayer of your affectionate father, J. W." 

In a future letter, John said he had visited the Due 
de la Eochefoucauld, by whom he was kindly received, 
and also M. Lavoisier, the chemist, with whom he dined. 
Lavoisier was one of the most distinguished philosophers 
in France, whose head was afterwards cut off by the 
guillotine, because the Eevolutionists " had no need of 
Philosophers in Paris." 

After visiting the Sevres manufactory, in 1786, in 
the company of Boulton and Watt, of Birmingham, 
young Wedgwood proposed to make a residence in the 
country, where the people spoke good French, and 
where he would not be distracted by the amusements 
and revels of Paris. His father agreed, and requested 
him to keep a diary or commonplace book, in which he 

276 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

might note down all that he saw of interest or im- 

The next letter we have from young Wedgwood is 
dated from the house of M. Pictet, Professor of Philo- 
sophy at Geneva (28th November 1787). He expresses 
his warmest gratitude to his father for sending his 
brother Tom to the University of Edinburgh ; and also 
for his intention to send him to join his brothers at 
Geneva, to be instructed by M. Pictet. Josiah Wedg- 
wood seems to have been most grateful for the in- 
tellectual training his sons had received from the good 

Young Wedgwood's next journey with his brother 
was to Kome, whither they went to see the ancient 
Greek sculptures. His father wrote to Sir William 
Hamilton : " Dear Sir After acquainting you with 
my sons' going to Eome, accompanied by Webber, my 
principal artist, and after the experience I have had of 
your goodness on former occasions, you will not be 
surprised if I request your protection of them. I know 
you will embrace every opportunity that may happen 
for promoting the studies of these two young men, who 
travel, as I hope they do, mainly for improvement. I 
have the honour to be, etc., yours, Jos. WEDGWOOD." 

The young men went to Naples, and were graciously 
received by Sir William, who exhibited to them all his 
collection of antiquities. 

"Naples, 29th April 1788 Flaxman has drawn 
some of my Vases, which were dug up near Naples, but 

xxi Wedgwood' s Personal History 277 

his health did not permit him to stay long in this 
neighbourhood. Your sons liked the country so well 
as to make a second visit, and I was really glad to see 
them, as I can assure you that their behaviour was 
such as to give universal satisfaction. You will prob- 
ably have heard of them since their return to Borne. 
. . I most sincerely wish you a continuance of health 
and success in your noble efforts in propagating a good 
taste in our country. Yours ever, etc., WM. HAMILTON." 

After his return to England, before settling down to 
business at Etruria, young Wedgwood made a home 
tour. Josiah Wedgwood wrote to Lord Auckland, 
then ambassador at Madrid (5th July 1789) : "My son 
has been at home nearly six months. He is now on a 
tour of discovery in his own country Wales, the west 
of England as far as the Land's End along with a Mr. 
Hawkins, an excellent mineralogist of Cornwall, with 
whom he became acquainted abroad, otherwise he 
would gladly have embraced the opportunity of thank- 
ing you for your friendly notice of him." 

After his return from the Land's End, young Josiah 
began to be of use to his father in the business at 
Etruria. He conducted the correspondence in the 
absence of his senior, and made himself acquainted 
when in London with the various commercial and 
manufacturing affairs of the home factory. It was in a 
manner necessary for him to do this, as John Wedg- 
wood, his father's relative and partner (so far as the 
useful wares were concerned), died in the course of the 

278 Josiah Wedgivood CHAP. 

same year, 1788, and thus the elder Josiah was left 
sole proprietor of the great establishment he had 

This, however, could soon be remedied. In January 
1790, Wedgwood took into partnership his three sons, 
John, Josiah, and Thomas, and his nephew Byerley, 
the latter having an eighth share of the profits. He had 
already for a time managed the London business, and 
eventually took an active share in the commercial part 
of the concern at Etruria. John and Thomas Wedg- 
wood afterwards retired, the one to become a junior 
partner in the London and Middlesex Bank, and the 
other to devote himself to chemical and scientific pur- 
suits among others, to heliotype or photography. 
After that, the firm was known as that of Josiah 
Wedgwood, Sons, and Byerley. 

Wedgwood had constant correspondence with Dr. 
Darwin. On one occasion we find Dr. Darwin asking 
for information about his first wooden leg. It had been 
first made by Addison, a lay-figure-maker in Hanover 
Street, Longacre, about eighteen years ago ; but since 
then, an ingenious joiner had made them at home. 
" He is making me a new one now, which, I believe, is 
nearly finished. He has made me one or two before, 
and has had the care of the old one for many years. 
It has received so many repairs from him, that it has 
now become almost like the sailor's knife which had so 
many new blades and so many new hafts. He is will- 
ing to make one for the gentleman you mention." 

xxi Wedgwood's Personal History 279 

Wedgwood, for many long years, was much troubled 
by his wooden leg. It was always in the way, and 
often interfered with his health. By preventing him 
taking exercise, he thought it made him bilious. He 
was often prevented walking, except on crutches, even 
to serve his most noble customers. When he was 
requisitioned to serve as an overseer of the poor in 
the parish of St. Ann's, Soho (in which his warehouse in 
Greek Street was situated), on the advice of J. Balgeny, 
his counsel, he declined the office on the ground that 
he did not live in London, and also because of " having 
been deprived of a leg, and being obliged to use a 
wooden one." His pleas were admitted. 

Dr. Darwin again wrote to Wedgwood when writing 
his Botanic Garden. "If you wish the speech of Hope * 
longer, send me what materials you would have added, 
as suppose 

" Here future Newtons shall explore the skies, 
Here future Priestleys, future "Wedgwoods rise. 

Now, in return, remember you are to send me a drawing 
of Cupid Warming a Butterfly." 

On the 22nd of February 1*789, Dr. Darwin wrote 
to Wedgwood : " Herewith you will receive the Botanic 
Garden, of which I am the supposed, not the avowed 
author. I intend to scold you for not making Derby 
on your way to and from London. This I shall, how- 

1 "Hope " was modelled by Webber. 

280 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

ever, postpone till we have the pleasure of seeing you 

On a future occasion, Dr. Darwin asked Wedgwood 
as to his merits as a potter. His reply was : " To your 
first question, I only pretend to have attempted to copy 
the fine antique forms, but not with absolute servility ; 
I have endeavoured to preserve the style and spirit or, 
if you please, the elegant simplicity of the antique 
forms, and, in so doing, to introduce all the variety I am 
able ; and this Sir William Hamilton assures me that I 
may venture to do, and that it is the true way of copy- 
ing the antique. 

" To your second, viz. 'Was anything of consequence 
done in the Medallion or Cameo kind before you, in 
real stones, or in imitation of real stones, in paste or 
soft coloured glasses ? ' Much has formerly been done. 
Witness the Portland Vase, and numberless pieces of 
inferior note. Bas-reliefs of various sizes have like- 
wise been made of a coarse brown earth of one colour. 
But of the improved kind of two or more colours, and a 
true peculiar texture, none were made by the ancients, 
or attempted by the moderns that I could hear of, till 
some of them began to copy, in an inferior manner, my 
jasper cameos. But this sounds so like blowing my 
own trumpet, that I shall say no more." 

Wedgwood might have written a better answer to 
Dr. Darwin had he copied his statement to the Court 
(27th July 17*71) when he defended his action against 
the persons who desired to infringe his solitary patent. 

xxi Wedgwood's Personal History 281 

He then averred that he " has been brought up to the 
business of a potter in Staffordshire, where he practised 
this art, along with that of enamelling, as a master for 
upwards of twenty years. ... He has enriched the 
pottery of his country with many inventions and im- 
provements, whereby pottery has been raised from a 
low and declining state to its present condition of one 
of the most flourishing manufactures in His Majesty's 

" He first invented the art of ornamenting ware with 
coloured glazes of various kinds. 

" He first adapted the engine lathe to the working 
upon clay, and introduced the use of it into the pottery 

" He introduced the Queen's ware, which banished 
the French ware from our markets and tables. 

" His experiments on clays enabled him to introduce 
many new ornaments of many kinds, especially vases, 
cameos, tablets, portraits, and classical models in jasper, 

"The object of the action is to prohibit a London 
manufacturer infringing Wedgwood's patent for pro- 
ducing Etruscan vases in a certain manner." 

Meanwhile Wedgwood carried on his business at 
Etruria in the old way. Wherever he could make an 
improvement, he introduced it. Flaxman sent him 
new casts and drawings from Eome. Deveare sent him 
a Bas-relief of Proserpine from the Borghese Vase, 
executed in the most beautiful manner. Webber fol- 

282 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

lowed him to Eome and sent to Greek Street some 
exquisite models. But Wedgwood had other assistants, 
in Italy, the chief of whom was Dalmazzoni. He also 
had several excellent artists under him ; Flaxman being 
principally engaged upon his own works in sculpture. 
Pacetti and Angelini also modelled for Wedgwood. 
Fradotti and Mangiarotti were his chief cameo engravers, 
as well as Angelini. The models sent to Wedgwood 
from Italy were very numerous. 

But now his active life seemed coming to a close, for 
though his mind was still as active as ever, his physique 
was failing. He took frequent holidays, and occasion- 
ally went to Buxton and Blackpool, sometimes making 
a tour in the Lake district. When at home he took to 
gardening, and we find him writing a long letter to Dr. 
Darwin about the qualities of a gardener. Dr. Darwin 
continued to be one of his most intimate friends, and 
they often met for the purpose of renewing the old 
scientific discussions. 

Wedgwood did not confine himself to his own 
domestic concerns. He had long correspondences 
with Miss Anna Seward and Thomas Clarkson about 
the Abolition of the Slave Trade. On one occasion 
Clarkson wrote a long letter to Wedgwood about " the 
cause in which we are mutually engaged." Clarkson 
was then considering whether he ought to continue his 
efforts or retire into private life. He had been engaged 
in the agitation for seven years. His mind and body 
had been greatly injured ; and though comparatively a 

xxi Wedgwood' s Personal History 283 

poor man, he had expended not less than 1500. If he 
had to meet the numerous calls made upon him, he must 
be " inevitably ruined." Upon this statement, Wedg- 
wood helped Clarkson liberally, and the prime mover of 
Slavery Abolition pursued his course with cheerfulness. 
Had not Wedgwood produced the kneeling suppliant 
with the appeal, " Am I not a Man and a Brother ? " 

Wedgwood did not confine his generosity to the 
black slaves of the East Indies : he also subscribed (in 
January 1792) 100 " towards the succour of the People 
of Poland," and his three sons subscribed 50 each. 

At one time, Wedgwood spoke of spending the 
summer in Germany, and after seeing Florence and 
Venice, returning with his son directly to England ; 
but, after making a journey to Meissen, with the 
object of looking over the manufactory there, he 
did not go on to Italy. In 1790, Wedgwood wrote 
to his agent Deveare in Eome : " I am rejoiced, with 
the rest of your friends here, in the hopes of seeing 
you and Mr. Flaxman returning safe to your native 
country. . . . You say I pointed out to you not to lose 
time. If I did so, I had no other meaning in it, than 
when I told Mr. Flaxman that you might send the 
model without loss of time." Deveare afterwards went 
to Etruria as a modeller for Wedgwood, where he was 
known as John de Vere. 

Wedgwood was gradually withdrawing from the 
active part of his business. Yet he could not entirely 
withdraw. To Dr. Darwin he wrote in 1788 : " I sigh 

284 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

that I am becoming an old man, that age and in- 
firmities overtake me, and more than whisper in my 
ear that it is time to diminish rather than increase the 
objects of my attention." And yet he was only fifty- 
eight years old, an age at which many men consider 
themselves in the prime of life. 

Wedgwood did not forget his old friends. He 
specially remembered Dr. Priestley, his bosom friend 
next to Darwin. He had long admired and followed 
Priestley's enthusiasm for chemistry ; and knowing that 
the Doctor's salary from his congregation was small, 
Boulton, Wedgwood, and Darwin took private counsel 
together as to the best means of providing him with 
funds to carry on what Dr. Darwin called his "fine 
vein of experiments." 

Wedgwood had an interview with Priestley, who 
communicated to him that he never thought of receiving 
any pecuniary advantage from any of his experiments, 
but gave them to the public with the results, just as 
they happened ; and he should continue to do so with- 
out ever attempting to make any private emolument 
for himself. This was an excellent idea pursuing 
science for science's sake. Nevertheless he could not 
deny that he required some help ; and the matter was 
arranged to the great credit of all concerned. The 
members of the Lunar Society l subscribed, and several 

1 The Lunar Society was a coterie of literary and scientific men 
who met at Birmingham monthly, at full moon, to enable distant 
members to drive home by moonlight. 

xxi Wedgwood's Personal History 285 

other private friends of Priestley. Wedgwood subscribed 
twenty-five guineas a year ; and the subscription was 
continued, after Wedgwood's death, by his son Josiah 
to the end of Dr. Priestley's life. 

Wedgwood, notwithstanding his declining health, 
continued to take some interest in science. In 1790 
he sent his last paper to the Philosophical Transactions. 1 
It related to a mineral substance which had been sent 
to him from New South Wales. It consisted of pure 
plumbago or black lead. With this mineral Sir Joseph 
Banks had sent him some clay from the same colony, 
which he found to be of excellent quality. Webber 
modelled a medallion from it, representing the figure 
of Hope standing on a rock, with three typical personages 
before her, exquisitely finished. 

Wedgwood was still far from well. He went to 
Buxton and Blackpool for the benefit of his health. 
He again suffered from spectra in his eyes. He was 
seized with asthma, and the pain in his amputated limb 
greatly affected him. On his return home, he amused 
himself with his garden, accompanied by his daughters. 
His grounds were laid out in the most beautiful manner ; 
and everything, except their owner, was bright and 
cheerful. Downes, the gardener, was most successful 
in his production of hot-house grapes, and a bowling- 
green was laid down for the use of his neighbours, 
though his wooden leg prevented his playing with them. 

Guests still came to Etruria Hall, and were hospitably 

1 Philosophical Transactions, vols. 74 and 76. 

286 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

entertained. Foreigners from every country were frequent 
visitors, and were for the time made happy in the survey 
of the beautiful works of art which the Hall contained. 
All Wedgwood's best productions were there vases, 
bas-reliefs, cameos, medallions, and his other famous 
works of art. But though Wedgwood strove to entertain 
his swarms of visitors, nothing could cure the proprietor 
of this casket of learning and art. 

His generous contributions to the aid of all good 
measures remained the same as before, or were even 
increased. His subscriptions to philanthropic and 
benevolent societies, to the struggling Poles, for the 
Abolition of the Slave Trade, and for the relief of the 
loyalist French emigrants who flooded England after 
the outbreak of the French Revolution, were large and 
bountiful. He started a free library and sick fund 
for the benefit of his work-people, when such help was 
very unusual. He was the great friend of Parliamentary 
Reform, and entertained the opinion that all measures 
of improvement should be argued out and established 
by Parliament. To his son Josiah he wrote : " A real 
Parliamentary Reform is therefore what we most stand 
in need of, and for this I would willingly devote rny 
time, the most precious thing I have, or anything else 
by which I could serve so noble a cause." 

As another instance of Wedgwood's liberality in 
respect of the advancement of Art, it may be mentioned 
that in 1792 he offered 1000 towards the establish- 
ment of a National Gallery of Sculpture, which was 

xxi Wedgwood's Personal History 287 

declined. Professor Cockerell, when examined before 
a committee of the House of Commons on the establish- 
ment of schools of art in 1836, thus spoke of Wedg- 
wood's offer : " I beg leave to mention an anecdote of 
the late Mr. Wedgwood, related to me by Mr. Cumber- 
land of Bristol, who wrote a pamphlet in 1*792 recom- 
mending a National Gallery of Sculpture, Casts from 
the Antique, etc., viz. that Mr. Wedgwood made a 
tender of 1000 in aid of such an institution. I beg 
further to state that I have found Wedgwood's works 
esteemed in all parts of Europe, and placed in the most 
precious collections of this description of works." 

Wedgwood was occupied by experiments on a cheaper 
glaze for ordinary pottery, when he was again prostrated 
by illness. His health was evidently failing. Asthma 
returned in an aggravated form. The pain returned 
in the nerves of the amputated leg. His debility was 
greater than usual. What was a new thing was a pain 
in his right jaw. He went to Buxton as usual, and on 
his return, he felt so much better that his son and him- 
self wrote cheerfully to Dr. Darwin as to his amend- 
ment. The doctor replied in a letter dated the 9th 
December 1794, in which he said 

" Your letter gives me great pleasure in assuring me, 
what your son Josiah had before mentioned, that you 
have become free from your complaint ; the ceasing of 
the palpitation of your heart and of the intermission of 
your pulse is another proof of your increase of strength. 
In respect to your breath being less free in walking up 

288 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP, xxi 

hill, I ascribe to the distant approach of age, and not 
to asthma. You know how unwilling we all are to 
grow old. As you are so well, I advise you to leave off 
the bark, and take no medicine at present." 

A few days after the date of the doctor's letter, 
Wedgwood's right cheek began to swell. Thinking it 
was caused by toothache, he sent for Mr. Bent to draw 
the tooth. On inspecting the interior of his mouth, 
the surgeon, to his dismay, found the beginnings of 
gangrene. Dr. Darwin came over from Derby, and 
called in two other physicians, but nothing could be 
done. The patient gradually grew worse. The inflam- 
mation extended into his throat. The fever increased, 
he became insensible, and he unconsciously passed 
away on the 3rd of January 1795, in the sixty-fifth year 
of his age. Three days after, he was buried in the 
porchway of the old parish church of Stoke. 



WEDGWOOD died nearly a century ago, but the seed 
which he sowed did not perish with him : his character 
and the spirit of his work survive to the present 
day. He was a man to impress the minds of the 
generation he lived in, and to hand down an example of 
goodness and probity to the generations which followed 

There is no need again to recapitulate the disadvan- 
tages of his childhood, the terrible trials of his early 
sickness and the consequent injury to his bodily powers, 
nor the vicissitudes of his active career. 

He had lived a life of self -improvement. The handi- 
craft of pottery at the beginning of his career was rude 
and empirical, but he rapidly raised it to the condition 
of an art. He introduced the turning lathe, and the 
forms of the articles produced by him were greatly 
improved. It was not, however, without the greatest 
struggle and effort that he achieved his fame. He de- 
termined to secure efficiency in his trade. He pulled 


2 go Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

down kiln after kiln to correct defects or to make the 
necessary improvements. 

He was constantly inventing new tools and machines 
to improve the manufacture. He instructed his work- 
men individually, and himself made the first pattern of 
any original piece made in his pottery. He spent his 
evenings chiefly in contriving tools and instruments to 
effect some novel process, or in making chemical experi- 
ments. He never lay down to rest without thinking 
and planning the new work of the morrow. 

All these efforts led him to the verge of poverty, 
like his predecessor Palissy; but though his poverty 
and struggle were great, his will and dignity proved 
greater and stronger. He never ceased to have faith in 
his future. Not a moment was given to doubt, hesita- 
tion, or discouragement. He believed that his assiduity 
and perseverance could triumph. 

Another characteristic of Wedgwood was his keen 
insight into the characters of men and women. It is 
not always by what a man does with his own head 
and hands, but through the persons whom he selects to 
carry out his instructions, that he achieves success. 
Wedgwood's workmen began to love and respect their 
master, because they knew that he had his special in- 
sight into their characters. It was for this reason 
that Wedgwood selected Bentley for his London part- 
ner a gentleman of great intelligence, excellent business 
habits, and unsullied integrity. 

Wedgwood was also helped by his wife. In one of 

xxii Character of Wedgwood 291 

his letters to Bentley, he said that he never entered on 
any new plan without first consulting his wife. She 
was indeed his true helpmeet. To quote Wordsworth's 
lines, she was the perfect wife 

The reason firm, the temperate will, 
Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill ; 
A perfect Woman, nobly planned, 
To warn, to comfort, and command ; 
And yet a Spirit still, and bright 
With something of angelic light. 

Wedgwood was never satisfied with permitting 
things to remain as they were. He must have constant 
improvements. In his early years England was mainly 
supplied with its best earthenware from abroad from 
Holland, France, and Germany. Why should not 
England, with its teeming population, manufacture 
earthenware for itself? The clay and other materials 
were as good here as elsewhere. These only wanted 
the master manufacturers to give an impulse to the 
home trade. Wedgwood was the leading man to give 
that impulse, and by his indomitable perseverance to 
open a road in which other manufacturers followed 
him, and thus the production of Staffordshire pottery 
and the employment of Staffordshire people were pro- 
digiously increased. 

Wedgwood was not satisfied with the manufacture 
of ordinary pottery. His desire was to add beauty to 
utility, and to render his works artistic as well as suit- 
able for domestic use. It was not enough for him to 

292 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

supply the market with increasing orders for Queen's 
ware, he also desired to add to his reputation by 
connecting his manufacture with art, and increasing 
the taste of the people who every day used, while con- 
templating, his useful ware. 

In the eloquent address delivered by the Eight Hon. 
W. E. Gladstone, on the laying of the foundation stone 
of the Wedgwood Institute at Burslem, on the 26th 
October 1863, many pregnant remarks were made on 
the association of Beauty and Utility, because (as the 
Chancellor of the Exchequer remarked), "it is in this 
department, I conceive, that we are to look for the 
peculiar pre-eminence, I will not scruple to say the 
peculiar greatness, of Wedgwood. . . . The pursuit of 
the element of Beauty, in the business of production, 
will be found to act with a genial, chastening, and 
refining influence on the commercial spirit ; that, up to 
a certain point, it is in the nature of a preservative 
against some of the moral dangers that beset trading 
and manufacturing enterprise ; and that we are justified 
in regarding it not merely as an economical benefit ; 
not merely as that which contributes to our works an 
element of value; not merely as that which supplies a par- 
ticular faculty of human nature with its proper food, but 
as a liberalising and civilising power, and an instrument, 
in its own sphere, of moral and social improvement." 

And again, in the same address on the achievements 
of Wedgwood, Mr. Gladstone said : " His most original 
and characteristic merit lay, as I have said, in the 

Character of Wedgwood 293 

firmness and fulness with which he perceived the true 
law of what we may call Industrial Art, or, in other 
words, of the application of the higher Art to Industry ; 
the law which teaches us to aim first at giving to every 
object the greatest possible degree of fitness and con- 
venience for its purpose, and next of making it the 
vehicle of the highest degree of Beauty which, com- 
patibly with that fitness and convenience, it will bear ; 
which does not, I need hardly say, substitute the 
secondary for the primary end, but which recognises, 
as part of the business of production, the studies to 
harmonise the two. To have a strong grasp of this 
principle, and to work it out to its results in the details 
of a vast and varied manufacture, is a praise, high 
enough for any man, at any time, and in any place. 
But it was higher and more peculiar, as I think, in the 
case of Wedgwood, than in almost any other case it 
could be. For that truth of Art, which he saw so 
clearly, and which lies at the root of excellence, was 
one of which England, his country, has not usually 
had a perception at all corresponding in strength and 
fulness with her other rare endowments. She has long 
taken a lead among the nations of Europe for the 
cheapness of her manufactures ; not so for their beauty. 
And if the day shall ever come, when she shall be as 
eminent in true taste, as she now is in economy of 
production, my belief is that that result will probably 
be clue to no other single man in so great a degree 
as to Wedgwood." 

294 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

There are some critics who aver that the manufac- 
turers of modern Staffordshire pottery turn out better 
plaques and better vases than Wedgwood ever made. 
No wonder ! Wedgwood turned out his best works about 
a hundred years ago. It would be strange if, in the 
course of the century which succeeded his death, the 
Staffordshire potters had not made many excellent im- 
provements in the manufacture of earthenware and 
porcelain. But no doubt can be entertained that he was 
the precursor of all that has since been accomplished. 
He was the man who, by laborious efforts extending over 
many years, introduced Greek and Etruscan Art into the 
British potteries. He completely revolutionised the 
character of the fabrics made in England up to the 
period of his decease. Though his productions recall 
Greek Art, they are not mere reproductions. He did 
not revive classical forms in a servile spirit ; his style 
is strikingly original. And because other manu- 
facturers may have excelled him, through the course 
of years, in the excellence of his works, shall we 
deprive him of the honour of being the Pioneer and 
Founder of the artistic productions of Burslem and 
Etruria ? 

It was truthfully recorded on his tombstone that he 
" converted a rude and inconsiderable Manufacture into 
an elegant Art and an important part of National 
Commerce." When Wedgwood was born at Burslem 
there were about fifty potters, of whom several were 
Wedgwoods; but the wares they made were all of a 

xxii Character of Wedgwood 295 

rude description. Hanley, now of considerable im- 
portance, had then seven small potters. The village 
had only one horse and one mule. There was neither 
cart nor carriage of any description in the place. The 
coals were carried on men's or women's backs. There 
were only two houses at Stoke Ward's and Poulson's 
but no potteries. 

When Wedgwood had fairly established himself, 
and obtained a large increase of trade, he was of course 
imitated by other manufacturers, and this . led to a 
still larger increase. The total annual amount of the 
whole manufacture of earthenware in the Staffordshire 
Potteries in 1725 was under 15,000 in value ; whereas 
in 1777, about fifty years later, it had increased more 
than fivefold. In 1785 there were 200 master manu- 
facturers, and from 15,000 to 20,000 persons employed 
in earning bread by their daily work. Of course, at 
the same time there was a large proportionate increase 
in the population of the Potteries generally. 1 

Wedgwood was a large and public spirited man. 
Besides attending to the building up of his own special 
trade, he did all that he could to open up the district 
to the trade of the world. He exerted himself to make 
turnpikes and highways through Staffordshire ; and 
when the Grand Trunk Canal was projected, he devoted 
himself, heart and soul, to its success. He also 

1 According to the census of 1871, Hanley contained 40,000 
inhabitants. The population of the Staffordshire potteries then 
numbered 166,625. 

296 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

developed to the utmost extent the commerce of the 
district, and took the lead, with the cordial approval 
of his neighbours, in all measures for the spread of the 
productions of Staffordshire. 

He made a fortune, but he used his wealth nobly. 
He supported all measures connected with the educa- > 
tion of the people. As early as 1760, when he was in 
comparatively straitened means, he strongly supported 
the proposal to found a school in Burslem, and sub- 
scribed 10 for its erection. He induced his eldest 
brother, Thomas, of the Overhouse, and his distant 
cousin, Burslem Wedgwood, to do the same. The 
school was erected on the piece of ground on which the 
Maypole formerly stood. It was afterwards pulled 
down, and the Town-Hall of Burslem was erected on 
the site. Another more complete school was sub- 
stituted for the former. 

To his own workmen he was the kindest friend. A 
free library and sick fund were instituted at the works 
for the benefit of all. He subscribed liberally for every 
good work that wanted support, for Clarkson and the 
Abolition of the Slave Trade, for the help of the Polish 
patriots, for the relief of the British residents in 
America, for the support of the emigrant French clergy 
residing in this country, and for most philanthropic and 
benevolent societies. 

We have already referred to his annuity to Leslie 
(afterwards Professor) for his assistance in the education 
of his sons ; and to the delicate manner in which he, 


Character of Wedgwood 297 

in conjunction with Boulton of Birmingham, assisted 
the great Dr. Priestley in the prosecution of his chemical 
experiments. But he assisted all who needed help, 
artists as well as others. 

"I never knew an instance of a man," said Dr. 
Darwin, "raising himself to such opulence and dis- 
tinction who excited so little envy; and this in a 
great measure arose from his prudent and modest 
acquisition of riches, and also from the circumstance 
that he was free from the failing which frequently 
attends easily-acquired riches, of neglecting his poor 
relations. He kindly attended to his, and was of 
essential service to many of them." 

A man may be known to a certain extent by his 
chosen friends, and Wedgwood's were, for the most 
part, men of distinction. Perhaps his dearest friend 
was Erasmus Darwin, poet and physician. Darwin 
knew Wedgwood in all conditions, in his joys and his 
sorrows. He was a great admirer of Wedgwood's art, 
and supported him in all his projects. He was with 
Wedgwood at the amputation of his leg, and with 
him on his deathbed. The Darwins and Wedgwoods 
were very intimately connected. The greatest of the 
Darwins the late Charles Darwin, F.K.S., author of the 
Origin of Species, married a Miss Wedgwood ; and the 
race of Darwins is not extinct. 

Among Wedgwood's other eminent friends were 
James Watt, inventor of the condensing steam-engine ; 
Matthew Boulton, the Birmingham manufacturer ; Sir 

298 Josiah Wedgwood CHAP. 

Joseph Banks, President of the Eoyal Society ; Thomas 
Day, author of Sandford and Merton ; Sir William 
Hamilton ; " Athenian " Stuart ; Clarkson and Wilber- 
force ; and many artists and sculptors, referred to in 
the previous chapters. 

Wedgwood received many honours. He was a 
Fellow of the Eoyal Society, in consequence of his 
invention of the Pyrometer and his many scientific 
papers contributed to the Society. He was a Fellow of 
the Antiquarian Society, because of his knowledge of 
Greek and Etruscan art; besides being member of a 
large number of Foreign Societies. 

His influence, his example, and his works at 
Burslem and Etruria, had a wonderful power in im- 
proving the moral and intellectual character of the 
inhabitants of the Potteries. We have already referred 
to the first visit of John Wesley to Burslem in 1760, 
when he was pelted with mud. He visited the same 
place in 1781 after Wedgwood had established his 
splendid pottery works. Wesley's words were these : 
" I returned to Burslem. How is the whole face of the 
country improved in about twenty years ! Inhabitants 
have continuously flowed in from every side. Hence 
the wilderness is literally become a fruitful field. 
Houses, villages, towns, have sprung up, and the 
country is not more improved than the people." After 
these words of John Wesley, further eulogy is un- 

From the time when he first turned the lumbering 

xxn Character of Wedgwood 299 

potter's wheel in the Old Churchyard Works at Burslem, 
to the time when he lay on his deathbed in his fine 
mansion at Etruria Hall, Wedgwood's mind had ever 
been active, ever thinking, ever working, ever seeking 
out fresh scientific truths, and ever busying himself 
in benefiting his fellow-men. During his busy life, he 
was always simple, patient, and steadfast. His per- 
sonal sufferings may perhaps have restrained and 
sweetened his moral nature. 

The dowry of suffering pursued him through life. 
His virulent attack of smallpox, the constant pain in 
his knee until its amputation, the scoriae in his eyes 
which threatened blindness, rendered his life a struggle 
with physical ills, and amounted to a long dying. 

Yet how much he accomplished, for the benefit of 
English art and commerce, as well as for the advantage 
of his fellow-countrymen, during his comparatively 
brief career. 

He did not fear death : he regarded it as the com- 
plement of life. He had done his work ; and death 
was a release from the pains and sufferings which 
had so long afflicted his existence. 


ALEHOUSES, Burslem, 11, 12 

America, war with, 164 

Ancient British, 184 

Anson, Lord, 100 

Artistic works, 148 

Artists employed by Wedgwood, 

Astbury at Bradwell, 16 ; his 

improvement of pottery, 17 ; 

introduces burnt flint, 18 ; 

Astbury and Wedgwood, 19, 24 
Auckland, Lord, 264, 277 
Austell, St., Cornwall, 169 

BACON, sculptor, 110, 146 

Barbauld, Mrs., 61, 197 

Barberini or Portland Vase, 213, 

259, 271 
Basalts, 144 
Bell Works, 44, 49 
Bentley, friendship with, 60 ; 

partner, 88 ; correspondence with, 

107, 127-31 ; death of, 240-42 
Black porcelain introduced, 80 
Blindness, Wedgwood's, 126, 146 
Blunt, Wedgwood's teacher, 4, 20 
Boardman, Liverpool, 60 
Bottgher, the 'Gold-Cook,' 170 ; 

maker of porcelain, 172 ; at 

Meissen, 173 

Boulton, Matthew, 48, 54, 78, 133 
Brickhouse Works, 44, 49 
Bridgewater, Duke of, 72, 97 
Brindley, engineer, 18, 48, 95 ; 

of Grand Trunk Canal, 53, 68, 

97, 100, 102 ; death of, 103 
Bristol porcelain, 178 

British, Ancient, 184 

Burslem Churchyard Works, 18, 

21 ; pottery at, 2 ; education at, 

4 ; poor condition of, 11 ; 

increase of population, 84 ; 

John Wesley at, 12, 92 
Busts, favourite, 235 
Byerley, agent in London, 206 ; 

with young Wedgwoods at Paris, 

274 ; at Geneva, 276 ; at Naples, 

276 ; partner, 278 

CAMELFORD, Lord, 175, 186 
Canal, Grand Trunk, 53, 68, 97, 103 
Canova and Flaxman, 221 
Carriage, expense of, 52, 93 
Cathcart, Lord, 82 
Champion, Bristol, 178 
Chelsea, works at, 79, 108 
Chemistry, Wedgwood and, 105 
Chessmen, Flaxman's, 212, 214, 


Chetwynd, Lady Deborah, 73 
Chimneypieces, Flaxman's, 208, 

212, 236, 250 

Chiswick Church, Bentley's monu- 
ment in, 242 
Church, Professor, 152 
Churchyard Works, Burslem, 1, 8, 


Cookworthy and kaolin, 175 
Cornwall, Wedgwood's journey into, 


Coward, artist, 109, 155 
Crispe, potter, 110 

DARWIN, Dr., 119, 122, 257, 283, 

3 02 

Josiah Wedgwood 

284 ; Botanic Garden, 279 ; at 
Wedgwood's deathbed, 288 

Delft ware, 9, 14 

Deveare at Home, 222 

Dorchester, 184 

Dover, Lady, 156 

Drunkenness of workmen, 44 

EARTHEN pipes, Wedgwood's, 238 
Edinburgh University, sons at, 274 
Education at Burslem, 4 
Education, Josiah Wedgwood's, 5 
Education of his sons, 234, 239, 273 
Elers, from Delft, 14 ; their diffi- 
culties at Bradwell, 15 ; remove 
to Chelsea, 17 

Engine lathe for pottery, 55, 69 
Engleheart and Flaxmau, 198 
Etruscan vases, 150. (See Vases) 
Etruria founded, 86, 104 ; first 

fruits of, 136 

Experiments, Wedgwood's many, 
89, 129 

FAMILY of Wedgwood, 191, 193, 

Fame, forebodings of, 230 

Faujas de Saint Fond on Wedgwood's 
ware, 149 

Fireplaces, Wedgwood on, 250 

Fire, an uncertain element, 46, 75 

Flaxman's history, 195 ; marriage 
to Ann Denham, 202 ; works for 
Wedgwood, 202 ; ruined ^for an 
artist, 203 ; proceeds in sculp- 
ture, 204 ; his numerous works, 
205 ; Flaxman's groups of chil- 
dren, 211 ; paints ceiling at 
Etruria Hall, 212 ; departs for 
Home, 220 ; his work there, 223 ; 
still works for Wedgwood, 229 

Flaxman, William, carver, 215 

Fothergill, Miss, 156 

Franklin, Benjamin, 258 

GLADSTONE, W. E., 'eloge on Wedg 

wood, 49, 292 
Gower, Lord, 76, 100, 132 
Grand Trunk Canal, 53, 68, 97, 103 
Greek works copied, 80 

Green earthenware, 32 ; glaze, 38, 

riffiths in South Carolina. 131 ; 

in Cornwall, 180 
rowan in Cornwall, 176, 187 

HACKWOOD, modeller, 155, 258 note 

Hamilton, Sir W., 132. 136, 149, 
235, 237 ; letters from, 163, 207 ; 
on the Barberini Vase, 213, 262, 
264 ; on Portland Vase, 269 

Hanley, pottery at, 2 ; poor condi- 
tion of, 11 ; museum, Josiah's 
apprenticeship deed at, 21 

Harecastle Tunnel, 99 

Harrison, partnership with, 31 

Hercules and Virtue, 218 

Highland Rebellion, 24 

Home Kule in Ireland, 254 

Hoppner, artist, 257 

Hoskins, artist, 109 

IVY HOUSE and Works, Burslem, 

JASPER-DIP, 154, 250 
Jasper ware, 152, 201 
Journey into Cornwall, 180 

KAOLIN, 169, 172, 176 
King George III., 73 
Knight and Flaxman, 205 

LANDRE, Mrs., modeller, 116 
Lanes near Burslem, 13, 51 
Lathe, engine, for pottery, 55, 69 
Leslie, Sir John, 5 
Lizard Rock, the, 189 
London warehouses, 57, 79 
Lunar Society, 284 


Matthew and Flaxman, 196 

Medallions, Wedgwood's, 148 

Meredith, Sir W., 70 

Money scarce with Wedgwood, 147 

Mortars for druggists, 231 

GATES, Miss, 69 
Old age, 166, 284 



PACK-HORSES at Burslem, 3 
Palissy, monument to, 174 
Pingo, modeller, 113 
Pitt, Thurlow's burlesque on, 58 
Pitt, Lord Camelford, 175, 186 
Plumier's VArt de Tourner, 69 
Plymouth porcelain, 177 
Plymouth, Wedgwood at, 185 
Porcelain, history of, 169, 174 
Portraits, execution of, 148 
Potworks, country, 13 
Prices of Wedgwood ware, 242, 269 
Priestley and Wedgwood, 284 
Prints on pottery, 57 
Puzzle-jug, 9 
Pyrometer, 243 

QUEEN'S ware, 56 

Queen's visit to Wedgwood's rooms, 

RATHBONE'S tribute to Wedgwood, 


Reynolds, Sir J., 256 
Rhodes, euameller, 114, 155 
Ridgehouse estate, 85 
Riots in cotton districts, 238 ; at 

Etruria, 251 
Roads and highways, 10, 13, 51 ; 

improvements, 68, 91, 93 
Romney, artist, 257 
Russia, Empress's order, 82 

SADDLER employs prints for pottery, 


Shaws and Wedgwoods, 8 
Showrooms in London, 57, 79, 133, 


Southwell, Mrs., 116 
Spode, Josiah, apprentice, 33 
Staffordshire in 1778, 165 
Stouker, the, 22 
Stringer, artist, 113 
Stringer, Wedgwood's mother, 1 

TABLE-SERVICES for the King and 

Queen, 76, 77 
Tassie, modeller, 112 
Taylor, Birmingham, 55 
Tea-services, 43 ; for Queen, 74 

Teignham, Lady, 156 
Templeton, Lady, 257 
Thermometer, 243-50 
Thrower's occupation, 22 
Tolcher, old, teetotaller, 190 
Turner, Dr., Liverpool, 60 
Turner, Lane End, 180 
Twyford, idiot at Bradwell, 16 

VASES, rage for, 74, 81, 115, 117, 

Voyez, enameller, 112 

WAGES of potters, 10, 28, 33 

Warehouses in Newport Street, 137 ; 
in Greek Street, Soho, 167 

Watt, James, 133 ; on commerce, 

Weaver navigation, 73, 97 

Webber, modeller, 256 

Wedgwood, Thomas, Josiah's father, 
1 ; death of, 4, 20 ; his will, 5 ; 
death of Josiah's mother, 28 

Wedgwood family, the, 7 ; their 
origin, 7 ; Burslem Wedgwood, 
8 ; the doctors Wedgwood, 9, 10 

Wedgwood, Josiah, birth and educa- 
tion, 1 ; youngest of thirteen 
children, 1,2; taste for modelling, 
20 ; apprenticed as thrower, 21 ; 
effects improvement in moulded 
ware, 22 ; attacked by smallpox, 
23 ; left severe pain in knee, 25 ; 
sent to the moulder's board, 27 ; 
his first teapot, 27 ; manufacture 
of ornamental wares, 27 ; begins 
making experiments, 27 ; brother 
refuses to take him as partner, 
30 ; partnership with Harrison 
and Whieldon, 31 ; Wedgwood's 
experiments, 34-38 ; begins busi- 
ness, 40 ; cultivation of mind, 
41 ; extends his premises, 43 ; 
difficulties with workmen, 42, 44, 
75 ; firing kilns, 45 ; reflections 
at night, 47 ; improves the roads, 
51 ; cost of transport, 52 ; in- 
vents the engine lathe for pottery, 
55 ; made potter to the Queen, 
56, 76 ; burlesque on Pitt, 58 ; 


Josiah Wedgwood 

accident to his right knee, 59 ; 
makes acquaintance with Beutley, 
60 ; friends at Liverpool, 61 ; 
correspondence with Bentley, 62 ; 
Wedgwood's marriage, 64 ; merits 
of his wife, 64, 67, 70, 121, 
126, 142, 156, 290 ; trade of 
Wedgwood, 70 ; patronised by 
King and Queen, 73 ; rage for 
vases, 74, 81 ; service for Empress 
of Eussia, 82 ; buys Ridgehouse 
estate, afterwards Etruria, 85 ; 
Etruria established, 86 ; partner- 
ship with Bentley, 88 ; continuous 
experiments, 89 ; Grand Trunk 
Canal, 97 ; first sod cut, 100 ; 
appointed treasurer, 101 ; new 
earthenware introduced, 106 ; 
artists employed by Wedgwood, 
109 ; starts a School of Art, 115 ; 
amputation of leg, 121 ; his many 
wooden legs, 124 ; attacks of 
blindness, 126, 146 ; first fruits 
of Etruria, 136 ; want of money, 

143 ; opponent of slave trade, 

144 ; executes portraits, medal- 
lions and plaques, 148 ; opposes 
renewal of Cookworthy's patent, 
178 ; journey into Cornwall, 
180 ; thermometers, 181 ; elected 
Fellow of the Koyal Society, 181 ; 
experiments on flint glass, 182 ; 
a geologist, 182 ; his Common- 
place Book, 181-82 ; the ancient 
British, 184 ; Mount Edgecumbe, 
185 ; Land's End, 188 ; pur- 
chases an estate with Growan 

stone, 189 ; journeys homeward, 
191 ; his family, 193 ; Wedgwood 
and Flaxman, 195 ; sons of 
Wedgwood his pupils, 208 ; his 
letters, 238 ; death of Bentley, 
240-42 : member of Royal Society, 
247 ; a pamphleteer, 252 ; Cham- 
ber of Commerce, 254 ; Portland 
Vase, 259 ; Wedgwood's imita- 
tion, 263 ; difficulties in copying 
Portland Vase, 266-70 ; journey 
to Meissen, 271 ; Portland vase 
broken by a lunatic, 272 ; sons 
with Byerley in Paris, 274 ; 
Byerley a partner, 278 ; Wedg- 
wood's many accomplishments, 
280 ; assistants in Italy, 282 ; life 
coining to an end, 282 ; Wedg- 
wood and Priestley, 284 ; declin- 
ing health, 285 ; his generosity, 
286 ; offers 1000 to National 
Gallery of Sculpture, 287 ; death 
from gangrene, 288 ; Wedgwood's 
character, 289-99 
Wesley, Charles, at Walsall, 91 
Wesley, John, at Burslem, 12, 92 
Westmacott, sculptor, 256 
Whieldon, partnership with, 32 
Wilcox and wife, 114-116 
Willet, death of Mr., 166 
Wolverhampton Canal, 100 
Workmen, difficulties with, 42, 44, 


Wright of Derby, artist, 114, 257 
Wyatt, sculptor, 256 

YOUNG, Arthur, on roads, 92 


Printed by R. & R. CLARK, Edinburgh. 




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into flippancy in his most amusing illustrations." Manchester Examiner. 




"There is no book among the current literature of the day we would rather see 
in a young man's hand than this. Although every person in his daily experience 
must meet wilh many instances of the folly of unthrift, especially among the 
poorer classes, the frequency of the text, and it is to be feared the disposition of 
the age, render the lesson valueless. Domestic economy as an art and a science 
is an unstudied subject, and one few writers have deemed worthy of their 
thoughts. We cannot therefore feel sufficiently thankful that the able writer of 
' Self-Help ' has turned his attention to it, and endeavoured, in language that has 
not only a literary charm about it, but bears the stamp of philanthropic earnest- 
ness, to rouse the interest, and thereby the reflection, of the British public in so 
important a matter of national welfare. The dignity of laboiir, the necessity of 
inducing habits of saving, the wickedness of extravagant living, the dangers of 
prosperity, and the want of sympathy between employers and employed, are topics 
on which Mr. Smiles speaks hard, and it may be, unpleasant truths, accompanied 
by a fund of illustration. Perhaps no part of the book is so valuable as the dissi- 
pation of the superstitious belief in good-luck and the chapter on the art of living. 
We trust the work will be found in every village and public library, that its 
principles may be disseminated broadcast among our youth, and we can assure all 
that they may enjoy in it many an hour's pleasant and profitable reading." 

" Mr. Smiles deals with some of the leading social questions of the day, such as 
Co-operation and Association. He sketches the sanitary movement, unsparingly 
satirises the feminine follies of fashionable circles, and, lastly, concludes with an 
admirable essay on what may be called the aesthetics of common life. We all 
know what a book from Mr. Smiles is sure to be, anecdotal, practical, and abound- 
ing in good sense and everyday wisdom." Academy. 


ENDURANCE. Post 8vo. 6s. 

"The good which these books have done to their millions of readers is quite 
beyond computation. They have always been practical, wholesome, and inspiring." 
Harper's Monthly Magazine. 

"The author has produced an excellent book, which for solid usefulness may 
well claim to be preferred to the lighter productions of the time." Pall Mall 

"Dr. Smiles has achieved the best work when, unimpeded by the conflicting 
claims of party or prejudice, he is able to pass in review those examples of bravery, 
self-devotion, and what, in the best sense of the word, may be called heroism. . . . 
Nor does he forget to stir the hearts of his readers with examples of the dutiful 
love and faith of animals, and so move them to a more thorough sense of their 
reciprocal duty. He thus inculcates broad views of duty to man and beast, that 
command universal approval and deserve unquestionable allegiance." Examiner. 

" The author writes as one who sympathises with the struggles and the failures 
of those who, in spite of difficulties, are trying to reach a nobler life. And it is 
this evident sympathy, associated with the manly simplicity and directness of his 
style, his sterling good sense, his judicious counsel, and his immense fund of 
wisely - manipulated anecdote, that makes this volume likely to be not only 
popular, but thoroughly useful." Christian World. 

"The book is replete with all the attractions of its predecessors so full of 
anecdote that it will be pleasant to the young as a story-book, while its lessons of 
wise counsel will fit it eminently to guide its readers in their various paths 
through life." The Queen. 






History of Inland Communication in Britain, and the Invention and 
Introduction of the Steam-Engine and Railway Locomotive. 





With Portraits and 342 Illustrations on Wood. 
5 vols. Crown 8vo. 7s. 6d. each. 

%* Each Volume may be had separately. 


"A chapter of English history which had to be written, and which, probably, 
no one could have written so well. Mr. Smiles has obtained a mass of original 
materials. It is not too much to say that we now have an Engineers' Pantheon, 
with a connected narrative of their successive reclamations from sea, bog, and fen ; 
a history of the growth of the inland communication of Great Britain by means of 
its roads, bridges, canals, and railways ; and a survey of the lighthouses, break- 
waters, docks, and harbours constructed for the protection and accommodation of 
our commerce with the world." Times. 

" We cannot but refer in passing to the captivating and instructive volumes 
which Mr. Smiles has devoted to the ' Lives of the Engineers,' a record not before 
attempted of the achievements of a race of men who have conferred the highest 
honour and the most extensive benefits on their country. ' Who'are the great men 
of the present age?' said Mr. Bright in the House of Commons, ' Not your 
warriors not your statesmen, they are your Engineers.' " Edinburgh Review. 

" Mr. Smiles has profoundly studied, and has happily delineated in his lucid 
and instructive biographies, that remarkable succession of gifted minds which 
has, not by lucky guesses, but by incessant labour and by lifelong thought, gradu- 
ally erected that noble example of dominion of man over the earth the science of 
Engineering ; and we are proud to know that there are men yet among us who can 
wield the arms of the invincible knights of old, and who will leave no meaner 
memory behind them." Quarterly Review. 

" Mr. Smiles may fairly claim the merit of having produced one of the most in- 
teresting and instructive works. He has discovered almost unbroken ground, and 
has worked it with so much skill and success that his readers will recognise in his 
volumes an illustration of the truth of Lord Macaulay's Saying, that history, 
personal or national, may, when properly written, be rendered as interesting as 
any novel." London Review. 

"In two handsome volumes, richly illustrated and luxuriously printed, Mr. 
Smiles begins what is in fact a History of the results of Engineering Science in 


this country. He puts his history into the most interesting form by developing it 
through successive stories of the Lives of the Engineers. Although his subject is 
one of the most curious and important in the whole history of civilisation, and 
abounds in details that are known to delight even our boys, the ground Mr. Smiles 
traverses is to a remarkable degree his own peculiar possession." Examiner. 

" Two beautifully illustrated volumes, in which the biographical, historical, and 
mechanical materials are graphically adjusted, and in which we have presented to 
us a comprehensive and minute record of English engineers and engineering. By 
his narrative Mr. Smiles has better instructed us in our obligations to our bene- 
factors. The whole theme is full of interest to all orders of mind ; and in using 
his materials he has laboured to make his work as complete in every respect as 
possible." British Quarterly Review. 

"In tracing the history of English Engineering from the beginning, Mr. Smiles 
really gives a history of English civilisation. He has produced a kind of philoso- 
phical biography, the progress of discovery and industrial conquest having 
necessarily a general correspondence with the mental development of the great 
representatives of man's external action. We think Mr. Smiles has done what 
was well worth the doing, with skill, with honesty, with purpose, and with taste." 
Westminster Revieiv. 

" The ' Lives of the Engineers ' are written in a clear and flowing style, marked 
by good sense and enlivened by humour ; they are full of curious information, con- 
veyed in a most lucid and easy description ; and each successive hero is drawn 
with an appreciation of character, and a minute exhibition of personal traits, which 
sets the man almost visibly before us in his distinct individuality, and lends to the 
history of his struggling genius a touch of almost dramatic interest. To produce 
this result, much hidden labour must have been employed ; for it is the effect of a 
most careful selection and rigid condensation of abundant though dry materials. 
Mr. Smiles has happily hit the mean between the barrenness of a brief epitome 
and the dreary wilderness of a maze of detail. What he gives is clear, intelligible, 
and interesting. But he has not trusted entirely to his literary excellence, great 
as it is ; his volumes derive an additional charm from their numerous and happy 
illustrations. Every work of note which has to be described is accompanied by a 
map or plan ; every district, ennobled by the birth or enriched by the labours of 
an engineer, is mapped on the margin of the page ; and bridges, haibours, roads, 
and aqueducts are turned by the skill of the artist into most effective decorations. 
The history of the engineers is not only the history of great conquests over nature, 
but also of the triumphs of industry and genius over the artificial obstacles of 
social rank. It presents the most striking instances of that Self-help which Mr. 
Smiles has elsewhere chronicled. The full merits of these two charming volumes 
can be learned only from a perusal of them." The Guardian. 

" There may be many here who have made themselves acquainted with a book 
that cannot be too widely brought into public notice I mean the recent publica- 
tion of a popular author, Mr. Smiles, entitled ' The Lives of the Engineers.' There 
may be those here who have read the Life of Brindley, and perused the record of 
his discouragement in the tardiness of his own mind, as well as in the external cir- 
cumstances with which he determined to do battle, and over which he achieved 
his triumph. There may be those who have read the exploits of the blind Metcalfe, 
who made roads and bridges in England at a time when nobody else had learned 
to make them. There may be those who have dwelt with interest on the achieve- 
ments of Smeaton, Rennie, and Telford. In that book we see of what materials 
Englishmen are made. These men, who have now become famous among us, had 
no mechanics' institute, no libraries, no classes, no examinations, to cheer them on 
their way. In the greatest poverty, difficulties, and discouragements, their 
energies were found sufficient for their work, and they have written their names 
in a distinguished page of the history of their country." The Right Hon. W. E. 
Gladstone at Manchester. 

" I have just been reading a work of great interest, which I recommend to your 
notice I mean Smiles's ' Lives of the Engineers.' No more interesting books have 
been published of late years than those of Mr. Smiles his ' Lives of the Engineers,' 
his 'Life of George Stephenson,' and his admirable little book on 'Self-help,' a 
most valuable manual." The Right Hon. Sir Stafford Northcote at Exeter. 





" Mr. Smiles has done wisely to link the names of Boulton and Watt together in 
the volume before tis. The more we read of the correspondence between these two 
great men during the birth of the new motive power, the more we feel convinced 
that the world has to be thankful for their happy partnership. Boulton seemed by 
some happy chance to possess all the qualities of mind that were wanting in Watt. 
.... From the heaps of dusty ledgers in the counting-house at Soho, the author 
has drawn the materials for these deeply-interesting lives, and has so handled them 
as to produce a volume which worthily crowns his efforts in this most interesting, 
because before untrodden, walk in literature." Times. 

"Boulton was the complement of Watt's active intelligence. . . . His is a 
memory of which the leaders of industry in Great Britain may well be proud. His 
virtues were the coinmon virtues which render the English character respected 
throughout the world, but in him they were combined with admirable harmony, 
and were unsullied by any of those vices which too frequently degrade the reputation 
of our countrymen. We cannot read of Mr. Boulton's grand struggle to bring the 
steam-engine into further use without a feeling of pure admiration. . . . We lay 
down this volume with a feeling of pride and admiration that England had the 
honour of producing at the same time two such men, whose labours will contimie 
to benefit mankind to the remotest generation, and with gratitude to the distin- 
guished biographist who preserves for the instruction of the times to come 
pictures of them so full of life and reality." Daily News. 

"Mr. Smiles has been enabled, by the examination of some hitherto unused 
papers, to throw a new light upon much of Watt's career ; and he has shown much 
skill in using them so as not to become wearisome, and yet to give us a very full 
and interesting picture. There is, in fact, a certain dramatic interest about the 
early history of the great discovery, which Mr. Smiles has well brought out. . . . 
Boulton is a really noble character, to whom Mr. Smiles has done justice, and 
whose combination with a man of Watt's marvellous abilities, but defective 
practical talents, was of the greatest use to themselves and to the country." Pall 
Mall Gazette. 

" In this volume Mr. Smiles has published a highly interesting and judiciously- 
condensed joint biography of the two men to whom England owes such an in- 
calculable development of her wealth and power during the last century. . . . Mr. 
Smiles carries pleasantly all who choose to read him carefully, through the history 
of the various improvements engrafted by Watt on his original engine, and of the 
other scientific inventions upon which his fertile brain was perpetually at work. 
He gives, also, a curious and interesting account of the part taken by Boulton in 
the prevention of the frightfully prevalent crime of coining base money, through 
the application of steam power to the coinage of a far more accurately-struck 
currency in metal of a more intrinsic value." Saturday Review. 

"That Mr. Smiles's will be the standard life of the great engineer is simply the 
necessity of his greater art as an industrial biographer. His skill in weaving 
together anecdote and description, representations of what was known with a 
distinct specification of what was contributed by his hero ; his dramatic power, in 
this volume especially, exhibited in the contrast of the two partners, the 
sanguine, speculative character of Boulton ; the anxious, morbid, cautious temper 
of Watt, one full of hope in the very darkest circumstances, the other full of fear 
in the brightest, give the volume a wonderful charm. The life of Watt is a great 
epic of discovery ; the narrative of it by Mr. Smiles is an artistic and finished poem." 
British Quarterly Review. 




"It is a singular fate that some of the world's greatest benefactors should pass 
from the world with their history comparatively unnoticed. . . . and we rightly 
rejoice when the claims of any of them are vindicated when, from the hidden 
company of the Brindleys and Watts, men risen from the ranks to do world-wide 
service, and incidentally to be the architects of their country's later greatness, we 
can obtain the authentic history of such a creator as George Stephenson. It is not 
too much to say, that by Mr. Smiles, who has performed this office with eminent 
success, a considerable void is filled up in the page of modern history. We see the 
vast proportions of our modern achievements, and the epic story of this age of iron, 
more than half comprised in the feats of its strongest and most successful worker. 
The worker himself, with his noble simplicity and energy, his zeal for his kind, his 
native-born gentleness, and indomitable tenacity, would probably have been 
eminent in any age or condition of society ; but, in virtue of his actual achieve- 
ments and the obstacles he surmounted, of his struggles and triumphs, we may 
designate him a hero, and ask, in defence of this arbitrary title, what real conditions 
of heroism were there wanting." The. Times. 

" We should like to see this biography in the hands of all our young men. One 
breathes a healthy, bracing atmosphere in reading this book. It sets before us a 
tine instance of success in life attained purely in the exercise of genuine qualities. 
There was no sham about George Stephenson. . . . He was a great and good man, 
and we can give the ' Life ' no higher praise than to say that it is worthy of its 
subject. Mr. Smiles is so anxious to place the character and career of Stephenson 
justly before his readers, that he quite forgets himself. . . . We do not know that 
there ever lived an individual to whom each separate inhabitant of Great Britain 
owes so much of real tangible advantage." Fraser's Magazine. 

"Whether the remarkable character of George Stephenson, or the work which 
he accomplished, or the manner in which the story of both is here told, be con- 
sidered, there is but one judgment to be pronounced upon this book, and that is an 
xinqualified approval. There is not a youth in the kingdom, whether high-born or 
low-born, who would not find in its perusal a healthy and elevating stimulus. The 
demand for the larger work, from which this has been condensed, has been so great, 
that we are encouraged to believe that in this, its cheaper form, it will have an 
enormous circulation. We earnestly hope it may. Let no youth or young man 
who may read these lines omit to procure it ; as -a possession, if possible ; if not, 
for perusal." Mechanics' Magazine. 

"It is the fate of few men, even of those who are the most signal public 
benefactors, to be known .and appreciated by the generation in which they live. 
The fame of George Stephenson spread slowly, and, great as it has at last become, 
we cannot question that it will continue to increase with time. Not only is he a 
surprising example of a labourer raising himself to wealth and eminence without 
one solitary advantage except what he derived from his own genius; but the 
direction which that genius took has stamped his name upon the most wonderful 
achievement of our age. . . . He died, leaving behind him the highest character for 
simplicity, kindness of heart, and absolute freedom from all sordidness of disposi- 
tion. His virtues are very beautifully illustrated, and by no means exaggerated, 
in his Life by Mr. Smiles. . . . There is scarcely a single page of the work which is 
not suggestive, and on which it would not be profitable to institute inquiry into 
the results of past experience as compared with present practice. The whole 
ground is novel, and of the highest interest." Quarterly Revietv. 




Crown 8vo. 7s. 6d. 

" The cunning of Mr. Smiles's hand never fails him. He has chosen the prosaic 
side of Huguenot history, and lias made it as fascinating as a romance. He has 
not essayed to depict the religious heroism or the social tragedy of the Huguenot 
story he has restricted himself to the economical influence of its migrations, and 
he has made the statistics and genealogies of which his work is full as interest- 
ing as Homer's lists of ships and heroes, or as Milton's array of the demigods of 
hell. The process seems very simple and easy, but it can be saved from utter 
dreariness only by consummate art. Mr. Smiles has pursued his investigations 
with, a laborious minuteness worthy of the Statistical Society and of the Heralds' 
College ; and yet it is as impossible to skip a page, as in reading his Life of 
Stephenson." British Quarterly. 

" Avec un rare dessinteressement national et un sentiment de justice qu'on ne 
saurait trop encourager, tin ecrivain Anglais vient aujourd'hui rendre aux etrangers 
ce que la riche et laborieuse Angleterre du xixme siecle doit aux etrangers. M. 
Smiles est 1'historien de la vapeur et de toutes les decouvertes utiles ; ses heros 
sont les inventeurs, les artisans celebres, les ingenieurs, tous ceux, en tin mot, qui 
ont derobe a la nature un secret on un force pour etrendre le regne de I'homme stir 
la matiere. Les conquetes de I'industrie et du commerce le preoccupent bien 
autrement que les victoires des armees Anglaises . . . Par la tournure de ses idees 
t 1'ordre de ses etudes, M. Smiles etait done prepare itraitercetinteressantsujet, 
la naissance des arts utiles chez un grand peuple qui, a 1'origine, n'avait pas 
d'industrie." Revue des Deux Mondes. 

"The work of Mr. Smiles embraces a subject which has never been adequately 
treated, at least in English literature the history, namely, of the French and 
Flemish Protestant refugees in this country, and their descendants. 

"Of the powerful influence exercised by this immigration on our industry, 
commerce, arts, literature, even our usages and modes of thought, few are aware. 
The subject is by no means a familiar one among ourselves. The whole revolution, 
so to speak, took place so gradually, the new population amalgamated so readily 
and thoroughly with the old, that people hardly attached to the phenomena 
which passed under their eyes their real importance. Mr. Smiles's account of it is, 
therefore, admirably calculated to impart, not only new knowledge, but really 
new ideas, to most of us. 

"To readers who love to dwell on heroic vicissitudes rather than on mere 
details of economical progress, Mr. Smiles's account of the persecution in France, 
the sufferings of the many and the marvellous escapes of the few, will prove the 
most attractive part of his work. 

" How this noble army of emigrants for conscience sake the truest aristocracy, 
perhaps, which has ever developed itself gradually and peacefully amalgamated 
with that mass of the English people which they had done so much to enrich and 
to instruct, Mr. Smiles has fully shown. He recounts their euthanasia, if such it 
may be termed, as he does their rise. To one of the great causes of their success, 
and not in England only, he does ample justice. They were, as a body, extremely 
well educated ; and they jealously transmitted that inheritance, which they had 
brought from France, to their children. The poorest Huguenot refugee was 
almost always a cultivated man. Hence their great advantage in the fair race of 
industry." Pall Mall Gazette. 

" Mr. Smiles's book on ' The Huguenots ' is an improvement on anything he has 
yet done, and it deserves a success which, by reason of its very merits, we fear it 
has no chance of attaining. The subject breaks ground that may almost be called 
fallow. Many chapters of English history, and these not the least interesting or 
important, are for the first time written, with the care and breadth they deserve, 
by Mr. Smiles." London Review. 



Post 8vo. 6s. 


"Mr. Smiles has hit upon a rich vein of ore, and works it with great success. 
He has the art of biography, which is by no means so easy of attainment as, judg- 
ing from the number of persons who attempt this species of composition, one 
would imagine it to be. Memoirs are countless, but the number of biographies 
that can be accepted as successful works of art are very few indeed. Mr. Smiles is 
not only a skilful workman, he has chosen a new field of work. Hitherto the 
great biographies have been written of soldiers and sailors, and statesmen, poets 
and artists, and philosophers. It would seem as if these only were the great men 
of the world, as if these only were the benefactors of mankind, whose deeds are 
worthy of memory. The suspicion has arisen that, after all there may be other 
herpes than those of the pen, the sceptre, and the sword. There are indeed, men in 
various walks of life whose footsteps are worthy of being traced ; but surely, con- 
sidering what England is, and to what we owe most of our material greatness, the 
lives of our Engineers are peculiarly worthy of being written. ' The true Epic of 
pur time,' says Mr. Carlyle, ' is not Arms and the man, but Tools and the man an 
infinitely wider kind of Epic.' Our machinery has been the making of us ; our iron- 
works have, in spite of the progress of other nations, still kept the balance in our 
hands. Smith-work in all its branches of engine-making, machine-making, tool- 
making, cutlery, iron ship-building, iron-working, generally, is our chief glory. 
England is the mistress of manufactures, and so the queen of the world, because 
it is the land of Smith ; and Mr. Smiles's biographies are a history of the great 
family of Smith. Many of the facts which he places before us are wholly new, and 
are derived from the most likely sources. Thus, Maudslay's partner, Mr. Joshua 
Field, and his pupil, Mr. Nasmyth, supplied the materials for his biography. Mr. 
John Penn supplied the chief material for the memoir of Clement." Times. 

" This is not a very large book, but it is astonishing how much individual, con- 
scientious, and thoroughly original research has been required for its composition, 
and how much interesting matter it contains which we possess in no other form. 
Mr. Smiles rescues no name, but many histories, from oblivion. His heroes are 
known and gratefully remembered for the benefits they have conferred on mankind, 
but our knowledge of our benefactors has hitherto been mostly confined to our 
knowledge of the benefit. It was reserved for Mr. Smiles to discover in the work- 
shop, heroes as true as ever hurled their battalions across a battle-field, and to 
present us with much - enduring, much -endeavouring, arid brave men, where 
hitherto we had been content with disembodied, almost meaningless names. The 
present work is further distinguished, not indeed from its predecessors, but from 
much of the current literature, by the exquisitely pellucid English, the vigorous 
but unobtrusive style, in which the narratives are conveyed." Edinburgh Daily 

11 Who has not read Mr. Smiles's ' Lives of the Engineers'? Pleasant volumes, 
abounding in quaint strange stories of life-struggles, of battles fought and won by 
mind over stern matter, ay, and more difficult task, over the opposing intellects of 
men, often envious, and always sceptical. Mr. Smiles has established a world- 
wide reputation as the champion of the engineer and the inventor. What matter 
that he sometimes acts the part of knight-errant, and couches his lance in defence 
of those who have no claim on his services, simply because they appear to enjoy 
scant justice at the hands of others ? "Mechanics' Magazine. 






" The ' Life of a Scotcli Naturalist ' is a record of success in unsuccess of fame 
unmingled with any sordid advantage of work absolutely disinterested and done 
' for nought,' as all the noblest work has been done. It is the story of a poor 
shoemaker who is a famous natural philosopher without ceasing to make shoes, or 
attaining in his old age to any seat more easy than that of his familiar bench." 
Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine. 

"In the evening of a life so noble, it is a comfort to all the friends and admirers 
of Thomas Edward to think that his exertions in the cause of Natural Science have 
at last been recognised in a way that cannot fail to be grateful to the veteran 
naturalist, who will no longer have to rely on his ' last ' as his resource against 
starvation in his old age. All readers, whether friends of science or not, are bound 
to be grateful to Mr. Smiles for having in a charming and beautifully illustrated 
volume, rescued the fame and character of Thomas Edward from oblivion as a most 
accomplished naturalist." Times. 

" The biography of this remarkable man owes much of its charm to the manner 
in which Mr. Smiles has done his part as narrator. The unobtrusive way in which 
the story is told, and the pleasant style of the smooth and experienced pen, 
deserve more than a passing word of approval." Saturday Review. 

" The ' Life of a Scotch Naturalist,' regarding it as a mere narrative, is one of the 
most enjoyable books it has ever been our good fortune to read. And it has this 
further merit. It shows what even the humblest and poorest amongst us may 
achieve, by the mere force of will, in spite of all the disadvantages of poverty, 
superadded to the want of education and friends." Land and Water. 

" Brimful of interest from beginning to end." World. 

"This 'Life of a Scotch Naturalist' strikes us as Mr. Smiles at his best, in 
mood, in matter, and in manner. In Thomas Edward, a naturalist and north- 
country shoemaker, he has lighted upon a subject of a different order from the 
common. If ever a man was carried away by a subject, it has been Mr. Smiles on 
the present occasion, and the subject is fortunately quite worthy of him. The 
work is a credit to the head and heart of Mr. Smiles, and of Mr Reid, the Aber- 
deenshire artist." Observer. 

"This book is clear, racy, unaffected, admirable, and certainly Mr. Reid's 
' labour of love ' on the drawings cannot fail to draw praise to him from the highest 
quarters. As for the etched portrait by Rajon, it strikes us as a simple master- 
piece. " Nonconformist. 

"Never has Mr. Smiles written with more of freshness and zest than in pre- 
senting to us the picture of this Palissy of Naturalists, of whose portrait, etched 
by Rajon, no words of praise could well be too high. Here is a man who, though 
shrewd and practical, never allowed worldly views to conflict with his ideal ; who r 
in all simplicity, without complaining, or ignoble greed of fame, followed his star, 
yielding a notable testimony, that, though Inquisitions are no more, Science 
still has its martyrs. A noble lesson of unaffected humility here goes hand-in-hand 
with the lesson of self-help, and elevates it." Spectator. 




"Robert Dick's life, from beginning to end, was a series of struggles with 
adversity. Late in life, when his marvellous knowledge of local natural history 
became known, he enjoyed the correspondence of many eminent naturalists and 
collectors ; but, among these correspondents, how few knew anything about his 
private circumstances ; how few dreamed that while he was generously presenting 
them with fossil fish from the Old Red Sandstone, or with rare plants from the flora 
of Caithness, he found it hard, in spite of extreme frugality, to earn sufficient 
to support himself and his faithful housekeeper. 

" On the publication of Hugh Miller's writings, Dick became deeply interested in 
geology. His indefatigable industry, and the energy with which he always threw 
himself into any new study, soon led to important discoveries. Many a new fossil 
was carefully hammered and chiselled out of the Old Red Sandstone, and duly 
packed off to Hugh Miller. . . . Another friend with whom Dick regularly corre- 
sponded was Mr. Charles Peach, of the Coast Guard Service. Mr. Peach is a man 
almost as remarkable as Dick himself, and we feel indebted to Mr. Smiles for 
having devoted a chapter to a sketch of his career. Those who enjoy Mr. Peach's 
acquaintance will also be glad to find in the volume an excellent portrait of this 
fine old naturalist. . . . The story here told is one of such absorbing interest that, 
from the first page to the last, the author keeps his reader in deep sympathy with 
his hero. Mr. Smiles's volume will be a more enduring monument to the scientific 
baker than the obelisk which proudly keeps guard over his grave iu the cemetery 
at Thurso." Professor Rudler in the Academy. 

" Robert Dick was one of those remarkable men of whom our country is justly 
proud. Belonging by birth, means, and position to the lower orders, spending a life 
of unceasing labour and not a little privation, earning his bread, to the last, by the 
sweat of his brow constantly on ' poortith's brink,' he yet, by dint of hard toil 
and indomitable perseverance, became an accomplished geologist and a profound 
botanist, and has taken a high and permanent place among the eminent scientific 
men of the age. . . . Dr. Smiles has produced a deeply interesting biography of this 
most laborious, unselfish, and modest Scottish worthy. We have read it with 
mingled feelings of admiration, sorrow, and indignation." North British Daily 

"Mr. Smiles has shown us the familiar traits of a man as faithful and self- 
helping as any who were ever rewarded with the outwai'd success which takes the 
eye of the world ; a man who, though shrewd and practical, never allowed worldly 
views to conflict with his ideal ; who, in all simplicity, without complaining, or 
ignoble greed of fame, followed out the bent of his singular genius. "Belfast 
Northern Whig. 

"The story of a man quite as interesting as Thomas Edward, quite as self- 
helpful, and perhaps more gifted as regards thought : certainly of a more poetical, 
meditative, and humorous turn. Dick is from first to last an original, not a mere 
working geologist or botanist, but a man with a character distinctly his own alike 
in all his relationships ; and he never speaks, never writes the simplest letter, but 
he casts modest, unpretentious light upon the very deepest problems. . . . The 
portrait of Dick is etched with all M. Rajon's peculiar power, giving at once the 
idea of great observation, fine thought, emotion, self-restraint, and pawky humour, 
as seen in the twinkle of the eyes, that so distinguished the original of it. And 
little less can be said of the admirable portrait of Mr. Peach, whose life so nicely 
matches that of Dick. No more readable and attractive book of the kind have 
we ever had in hand ; let our readers be sharers in our pleasure by procuring it." 



Post 8vo. 6s. 

PHINEAS PETT : Beginnings of English Ship-building. 
FRANCIS P. SMITH, Introducer of the Screw Propeller. 
JOHN HARRISON, Inventor of the Marine Chronometer. 
JOHN LOMBE, Introducer of the Silk Industry. 
WILLIAM MURDOCK : His Life and Inventions. 
FREDKRICK KOENIG, Inventor of the Steam Printing Machine. 
THE TIMES : Inventor of the Walter Press. 
WILLIAM CLOWES : Book-Printing by Steam. 
CHARLES BIANCONI : Self-help in Ireland. 
INDUSTRY IN IRELAND : Connaught to Belfast. 
SHIP-BUILDING IN BELFAST: Autobiography of Harland. 

" Dr. Smiles has probably done more, by his many interesting books, to uphold 
the dignity and power of labour than any other writer. He is the prose laureate of 
Industry, and its captains have found in him one who is not only enthusiastic 
himself, but who is also capable of infusing others with a like enthusiasm. . . . 
We have no doubt that these latest chapters in the history of industry and 
scientific investigation will be quite as popular as their predecessors." The Times. 

"Dr. Smiles has here added another to his valuable volumes on Industrial 
Biography, and one which is quite worthy of its place. In this instance, he has in 
many cases had to do with men who did not, in the worldly sense, succeed ; and 
who had to endure hardness in the cause of the common good. . . . The book is a 
rich storehouse of facts, condensed to the utmost, and all presented with that rare 
and unaffected simplicity of style which has done so much to give Dr. Smiles the 
high place he holds in literature." British Quarterly Review. 

"Another volume of Industrial Biography by Dr. Samuel Smiles will meet with 
a general welcome. One of the best chapters is devoted to Astronomers and 
Students in humble life. . . . The book is throughout most readable and instruc- 
tive." Contemporary Review. 

"The new work, entitled 'Men of Invention and Industry,' contains an 
excellent account of the chequered career and hard fate of Koenig." Nineteenth 

" Stories of the heroes of Industry, such as those which Dr. Siniles delights to 
tell, are contributions of some value to the best kind of educational literature. In 
the present volume Dr. Smiles takes a wide industrial range, illustrating each trade 
of which he treats by biography or autobiography." Athenceum. 

"Generally speaking, a succes d'estime is all that is accorded to solid and improv- 
ing books, while popular enthusiasm is aroused only by works of fiction. But Dr. 
Smiles forms an exception to this rule. His books are read as easily as novels, nor 
is it difficult to tell why. Mankind loves a story, and Dr. Smiles masks his 
batteries behind a series of well-told tales, in which the moral is never obtruded, 
but, as it were, held in solution, and swallowed unconsciously. His heroes, too, have 
the very qualities which win the esteem and excite the emulation of Englishmen ; 
they are uniformly brave, honest, laborious, and persevering ; and the teaching of 
their lives is, that without these moral qualities, no mere mental superiority avails. 
The author's reflections and generalisations are few and short; but so wise, so in- 
controvertible, as to strike home and be remembered. Add to all this a direct, 
telling style, entirely free from affectation, and the triumphant success of 'Self- 
help,' 'Lives of the Engineers,' etc., is explained. The volume, entitled 'Men of 
Invention and Industry,' is in every way worthy of its predecessors." Economist. 

" 'Men of Invention and Industry' is, in our judgment, one of the best prize 
books of the season. It is every whit as interesting as ' Lives of the Engineers ' 
and ' Industrial Biography,' and higher praise we cannot award it. Most of the 
names, Phineas Pett, Francis Pettit Smith, John Lombe, William Murdock, 
Frederick Koenig, Charles Bianconi, will be new to most readers. Tulit alter 
honores would be an appropriate motto for the book." Journal of Education. 




Illustrations. Post 8vo. 6s. 

*** Fine Paper Edition, with Portrait and Illustrations. Svo. 16s. 

"The whole range of literary biography may be searched in vain for a more 
interesting record of an active, useful, successful, and happy life, than is presented 
by the delightful autobiography of James Nasmyth. Starting in life, on the 
modest wage of 10s. a week (fixed by himself, and within which he lived), at the 
early age of forty-eight James Nasmyth had accomplished fame and fortune, and 
retired from active business. Long may he live to enjoy the fruit of the work of 
his skilful and industrious hands !" The, Edinburgh Review. 

"We should not know where to stop if we were to attempt to notice all that is 
instructive and interesting in this volume. It will be found equally interesting to 
students of human nature, to engineers, to astronomers, and even to archaeologists. 
Among other merits, there are few books which could be put with more advantage 
into a young man's hands, as affording an example of the qualities which conduce to 
legitimate success in work. Mr. Nasmyth has done his generation a great service 
in publishing this modest but most instructive autobiography. It must always be 
one of the most interesting records in the history of mechanical engineering ; and 
it is not less valuable as a picture of some of the soundest and pleasantest human 
nature with which we have ever become acquainted." The Quarterly Review. 

"It would be an easy and agreeable task to wander through the pages of this 
Autobiography, obtaining here and there illustrations of the character of the 
writer, anecdotes of the many great men with whom he came into contact, glimpses 
of the practical sagacity which governed his own conduct in life. The exigencies 
of space forbid the indulgence, and we can only advise our readers to procure the 
volume for themselves. There are, notwithstanding, a few things which must be 
noticed. There run through it certain veins of garrulity, of unconscious egotism, 
and of the simplicity of genius, which justify the belief that the great mechanic 
has been permitted, in the main, to tell his own story in his own words and way. 
There is one more pleasant feature which should be mentioned, and it is the tone 
of hearty appreciation of excellence, whether moral, intellectual, or technical, 
which pervades the volume. Nasmyth became acquainted with many great and 
good men, and he speaks of their greatness or of their goodness with unstinted 
admiration. From the first page to the last there is neither a word of personal 
censure, nor a stain of jealousy or animosity. Close competition and keen rivalry 
.seem to have left no traces upon his mind, and he has an approving word for every 
contemporary who is mentioned at all. Such, in brief outline, is the history of 
James Nasmyth, whose autobiography, edited by Samuel Smiles, is now before us." 
The Times. 

"An autobiography which is quite a model, both in charming simplicity of style 
and in modest self-effacement. . . . One of the pleasantest and most interesting 
books we have met for many a day." Globe. 

"A singularly interesting volume; a most interesting and suggestive book." 
Daily Telegraph. 

"A pleasant record of an interesting life. ... It would be impossible to give 
any notion here of the unceasing activity of mind which gives life to every page of 
this book ; nor can we even hint at the number of charming little mechanical 
' dodges ' contrived for all manner of purposes by Mr. Nasmyth in his odd moments. 
Those who take no interest in such matters and we think they are to be pitied 
will find much pleasant matter in Mr. Nasmyth's record of passing scenes and 
events ; and we can congratulate him on having produced a well-written account 
of a most interesting life." Saturday Review. 


Return to desk from which borrowed. 
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 


2 7 1952 

^ Dec 59G W 

NOV 241959 

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Hpfflsoiiu&VC WAR 25 '93 
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